(Waterbury Republican-American) Sen. Kane: Oxford Airport Incentive Zone “Could Expand”

August 14, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American

Incentive zone staked out

Airport’s 2-mile radius touches 5 towns

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN — A newly created economic development incentive zone at Waterbury-Oxford Airport includes tracts of land from Oxford and Middlebury, and could include parts of three other towns. On Monday, the Connecticut Airport Authority’s board of directors unanimously approved the economic development incentive zone at the state-owned airport. The zone encompasses a two-mile radius around the airport, and towns within that radius can request census tracts to be included in it, said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. Zoning also has to be appropriate for the activity proposed, he said. “This is another step forward in terms of trying to advance economic development here in the state,” Dillon said.

Under the plan, businesses can apply for a five-year, 80 percent abatement of local property taxes on real and personal property as well as a 10-year, 25- to 50-percent credit on a portion of the state’s corporation tax.

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, who sought to create the zone for three years, said Monday’s vote approved the Oxford and Middlebury census tracts. In September, the board of directors will take another vote, and Southbury should be part of the zone as well, he said. Southbury has undeveloped commercial tracts within the two-mile radius of the airport, including in the area of Exit 16 off Interstate 84 and the Southford business district at routes 188 and 67. Kane said apparently the Southbury Economic Development Commission wanted more time to look at the incentive zone, and requested that Southbury not be part of Monday’s vote. He expects it will be considered in September when the directors vote again.

Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson said he has scheduled a review next week with Jennifer O’Neill, chairwoman of Southbury’s Economic Development Commission, and Ed Gore, chairman of Southbury’s Planning Commission, “to move the process along in the hope that Southbury’s position will be finalized by the end of the month.”

Kane said other communities could be included in the zone, including Woodbury and Naugatuck. “This could expand a little bit larger than we first anticipated,” said Kane.

Woodbury and Naugatuck have smaller tracts that fall within the two-mile radius, Dillon noted. However, they haven’t requested to have those tracts included, he said. The airport lies mostly in Oxford, with a small portion extending into Middlebury. It has a daily average of 137 takeoffs and landings, and there are 209 aircraft at the airport. An estimated 6,500 aircraft used the airport in 2010, according to a release from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. In 2010, the airport contributed more than 2,374 direct and indirect jobs and $235.4 million in economic activity, including $113.9 million in labor income and $7.9 million in state tax revenues, it states.

Oxford Economic Development Director Andrew McGeever said companies and individuals who own land in the area are excited about the development that will come out of the development zone. “I don’t think there is another location in the Northeast Corridor that offers the kind of opportunity that this particular zone offers,” McGeever said. “We look forward to the future and what the zone will bring to Oxford and the surrounding neighbors.”

Middlebury First Selectman Edward B. St. John said he wasn’t familiar with all of the plans of the expanded zone, but felt the area could give a boost to the town. “Hopefully we can harvest some of the rewards of economic development with the new zone,” St. John said. “Hopefully, it does what it needs to do.”