Framingham Director of Community and Economic Development Alison Steinfeld didn’t mince words when she reported to the Selectmen the only way the town is going to realize an increase in revenue is to foster development.
“The town must have a mindset that new development is a desirable and worthy goal,” said Steinfeld as she opened her presentation before the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night. “There is a choice. Accept new growth or forgo additional revenue.”
Development does three things, Steinfeld said in her presentation:
1. Provides new revenue for services and programs and/or reduces the tax burden on existing taxpayers;
2. Creates jobs
3. Provides goods and services to support existing land uses.
She named five areas of Framingham that have development potential and informed the Selectmen that the state has designated two of those areas as priority development sites.
The Downtown/South Framingham and Technology Park/9-90 areas received the designation, which gives the town added leverage when securing state development funds for projects in those areas.
In order to be perceived as a business-friendly environment, Steinfeld recommended that Framingham:
- Is proactive rather than reactive … supportive rather than adversarial.
- Promotes cooperation with developers, existing businesses and commercial property owners.
- Develops and builds upon public-private partnerships.
- Facilitates appropriate development proposals.
- Conveys a willingness to entertain requests for tax incentives.
- Acknowledges needs of business community.
Steinfeld gave an example of how 47 New York Ave., a building, contributed $740,818 in taxes for fiscal year 2012. Redevelopment of the property means Framingham’s tax base was permanently expanded by $19.5 million.
In a departmental presentation, the Framingham Building Department reported collecting building permit fees for more than $1.3 million in fiscal year 2011.
The department issued 2,308 permits that year, with a spike coming in additions and alterations of existing homes and buildings.
The town’s sign by-law comes under the department’s jurisdiction and the report stated that all non-conforming signs must be brought into compliance by Dec. 1. The department plans to have informational meetings and roundtable discussions on signs as the deadline approaches.
The department said it answers an average of 50 to 60 basic zoning questions and prepares five to 10 zoning opinions each week.
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