HAMPDEN, Maine — With one councilor absent, the Hampden Town Council voted 6-0 Monday night to approve a deal with Dennis Paper and Food Services to aid the company’s continued operation and expansion in Hampden.
The deal, which involves a tax increment financing district and development program as well as a credit enhancement agreement, means Dennis will expand its current 107-employee workforce to 117 within the next two years.
Town Manager Sue Lessard said terms of the 15-page agreement involve a tiered, 15-year retained TIF revenue arrangement in which the town and Dennis will divide up the taxes resulting from the company’s expansion and not its current operations.
For the first five years, 77 percent of that tax revenue will go back to Dennis with the remaining 23 percent going to Hampden. Over the second five years, Dennis and Hampden will divide that revenue up 50-50. Over the last five years, Hampden will increase its share by 10 percent year by year. So in the 11th year of the agreement (fiscal year 2023-24), Hampden will get 60 percent to Dennis’ 40 percent. In 2024-25, it will be 70 and 30 percent for Hampden and Dennis, respectively. The subsequent three years will see Hampden’s share increase from 80 to 90 to 95 percent.
The other main part of the agreement involved the creation of a “Dennis Paper & Food Services Development District and TIF District Development Program Fund” which the town will use to maintain and develop its park and trail systems and fund staff and other costs from its economic development department.
Another key component of the deal involved the town’s designation of the property located at 101 Mecaw Road, owned by University Club, and leased to Dennis as a municipal development district and TIF district.
Another main agenda item from Monday night’s meeting was a review of the Hampden planning board response to the town’s draft of the 2010 comprehensive plan, which was provided by town planner Bob Osborne.
The plan, which was the cause of much contentious debate and controversy for many months, lays a legal framework for the town’s zoning and land use regulations. An ad hoc citizen’s committee did its own review of the plan and offered several slight changes in language before the plan was eventually approved.
The planning board recommended some changes in plan language and pointed out some minor mistakes involving language and dates, but the the major part of the response was a recommendation to develop a prioritized list of which ordinances to modify first.
The board report noted that the plan was “ambitious with 40 immediate projects, 13 ongoing projects, and 22 long-term projects.”
Councilor Tom Brann pointed out that the plan is basically a loose framework and guidepost as to possible projects the town may wish to complete.
“People call it a wish list, but it’s more a benchmark or guide for things we might do,” he said.
Brann made a motion to send the plan draft out for a public hearing on the third Monday in October. His motion was seconded and passed unanimously.