FARMINGDALE — Voters at a special town meeting Saturday spoke loud and clear: there will be no tax break given to Kennebec Valley Gas Co. for a proposed natural gas line that will run through town.

Board of Selectmen Chairman David Sirois spoke in favor the tax break, known as tax increment financing or a TIF, saying it would bring economic development to the town in ways of employment and money the town can put toward capital improvement projects, such as the much-needed reconstruction of Northern Avenue.

“When you get an opportunity for economic development knocking at the door, you’ve really got to take advantage of it before it’s gone,” Sirois said.

Other residents, however, saw it differently. About 100 people showed up for the meeting that was held at Hall-Dale High School.

David Cyr, a Sheldon Street resident, said he’s in favor of natural gas becoming available to Farmingdale, but he is dead set against the town giving Kennebec Valley Gas Co. a tax break for 15 years.

“If they want to do this, then they should get the capital to do so,” Cyr said.

Portland-based Kennebec Valley Gas Co. is proposing a natural gas line from Richmond to Madison and is requesting tax increment financing deals from the 12 communities affected by the project. Cities and towns in the proposed gas line corridor are being asked to return 80 percent of property taxes to the company the first 10 years and 60 percent the next five years. Officials from the company have said the project going forward is dependent on the communities approving the TIFs. So far, Madison is the only other community to vote against it.

Bill Crowley, another resident, said the town has not given tax breaks to Central Maine Power Co., cable companies and the water and sewer district, and does not believe the town should give one to the gas company.

“They all pay their fair share of taxes,” Crowley said.

He also said a distribution line that would run through town would mean more construction, and, therefore, more problems for businesses, residents and visitors who have already lost revenue and time from the construction on U.S. Route 201.

Furthermore, Crowley said, it’s not fair to give a TIF to Kennebec Valley Gas Co. when other businesses in town have expanded without such incentives.

“It’s a slippery slope. If you start using (our money) for private business, what’s to stop the next guy from wanting (a tax break)?” he said. “Let Farmingdale be known as the little town that said ‘no.'”

About half the people cleared the high school’s theater after voting down the TIF for the natural gas line.

The remainder of residents voted to accept a fireworks ordinance, utility accommodation ordinance, changeable sign ordinance and an opening permit ordinance.

Voters also accepted trying to buy a Maine Avenue residence with donated money. Town officials want to tear down the house, and along with an adjacent town-owned lot, build parking spaces for the Kennebec River Rail Trail. If the purchase goes through, the town would own the property and give the Friends of the Kennebec River Rail Trail and Board of Supervisors a conservation easement to care for the property and trail.

Voters also accepted Pine Street Heights, a subdivision, as part of Pine Street, and to pay for snowplowing on the street.

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