FARMINGDALE — Residents will again be asked to approve a tax break for a proposed natural gas pipeline despite soundly rejecting the request in December.

The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday night to bring the tax increment financing district for Kennebec Valley Gas Company’s project back before voters. This time, however, it will be at a referendum ballot vote scheduled for June 22, the day before the annual town meeting.

That decision has angered resident Bill Crowley, a key organizer against the tax break request, who said Thursday that he would probably go door-to-door again to fight it.

“How can they justify doing that? There was an overwhelming vote at the special town meeting and now they’re coming back saying, ‘That doesn’t matter; we’re going to hold another vote,'” Crowley said. “I’m really disappointed.”

The $85 million natural gas pipeline is planned to run through a dozen communities in central Maine, from Richmond to Madison, primarily serving large commercial customers.

Selectmen said they decided to revisit the tax break because several other communities have since approved the TIF, including Gardiner, Hallowell and Augusta, and they want to make sure that Farmingdale residents fully understand the proposal before voting again.

Board of Selectmen Chairman David Sirois said he “fell short of an adequate job” in explaining to residents how tax increment financing works.

Residents rejected the TIF by a show of hands overwhelmingly against the measure at a special town meeting Dec. 10. About 100 people showed up for the meeting at Hall-Dale High School.

Many residents were motivated to be at the meeting for “the sole purpose of making sure that Kennebec Valley Gas Co. would not get a TIF,” Sirois said, and they couldn’t be swayed.

Sirois called also it a black mark on the town when residents at the meeting voted to not allow a gas company representative to speak.

Sirois said in neighboring communities Hallowell and Gardiner, city councils approved the tax breaks after several hearings. Sirois said he believes residents, especially those who didn’t attend the special meeting, should have another chance to review the facts before the next vote.

“This vote will have implications that will reach far into the future,” he said. “I believe this is too important an issue to leave to one vote at town meeting. A referendum vote will bring about a fair and equitable results and one that I will be able to accept.”

Kenneth Young, executive director of Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, and Mark Isaacson, a partner with Kennebec Valley Gas Co., attended Wednesday night’s meeting.

Isaacson said the proposal will be the same as it was last time.

Following the TIF rejection in December, gas company officials said they were figuring out a way to route its main line around Farmingdale. They have held discussions with Windsor officials, Isaacson said.

Under the TIF proposal, the company wants the town to return 80 percent of property taxes to them the first 10 years after the project has started, and 60 percent the next five years.

Crowley said he’ll fight the TIF proposal again and he thinks recent setbacks — such as Sidney voters rejecting the TIF proposal Wednesday night — indicate that it’s “not a particularly good idea.”

“They should be able to build it without tax money involved in financing it,” Crowley said. “The commercial banks should be standing in line to support it. I think this is just a money-making scheme.”


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