CHELSEA — To draw up a plan for economic development, Chelsea town officials need some information from town residents and business owners, but those groups have been slow to respond.

Earlier this year, they posted two surveys, one for residents and the other for businesses, on the town’s website,

“We’ve gotten about 20 surveys back so far,” Chelsea Town Manager Scott Tilton said. “We really need about 100 to 150. We hope to have a nice selection.”

So officials will try a different tack: They plan to hold a public hearing and supper on Sept. 22 to encourage more response than they have been able to gather to date.

This information-gathering project is aimed at helping the Chelsea Economic Development Committee understand the town’s economy and what residents and business owners want to see happen.

Richard Danforth, chairman of Chelsea’s Board of Selectmen, said he’s served on the board for about 20 years.

“I’ve always heard about how folks want to bring in business and expand the tax base,” Danforth said. “This is another avenue for that.”

The driver behind this economic development planning is the tax increment financing district town residents voted to create in 2015 to take advantage of the impact of the construction of 6.5 miles of natural gas pipeline. TIF districts are used by cities and towns to shelter the increased valuation a project like this generates. Changes in a town’s assessed property value can affect its share of state aid for education, local school district contributions, municipal revenue sharing and the county tax assessment. The major share of the anticipated revenue under this TIF agreement will be directed to community-wide economic development projects. The rest will be used for local road improvements needed as a result of the gas line construction.

The value of the construction project was estimated at $6.9 million, and it is expected to generate $2.5 million in new tax revenue over the 30-year life of the TIF district. The pipeline, installed by Maine Natural Gas Co. and Summit Natural Gas of Maine, will raise about $118,680 in revenue this year.

“We’re elected by the townspeople, but we need their input,” Danforth said. “It doesn’t stop with putting Ben (Smith), Rick and Mike (Pushard) on the board.”

“We need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly,” Tilton said.

The residents’ surveys are designed to gather information about quality of life, services and amenities that are available in Chelsea and measure its desire for economic development.

In addition to basic demographic information, the business survey wants to know whether existing businesses are considering expanding in Chelsea, what businesses could be recruited to support existing businesses, where new commercial development should be encouraged and what town government can do to support business startups.

The hearing and supper are scheduled for 5 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Chelsea Elementary School on Togus Road.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ