Chester is seeking village center designation
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | April 29,2013
CHESTER — The town of Chester is promoting economic development through tax credits.
Town officials, business owners and local residents attended a presentation Tuesday on downtown village and tax credit programs. By obtaining a state village center designation, commercial buildings within a given area can qualify for tax credits.
“The state program is about encouraging investment in downtowns and village centers,” said Caitlyn Corkins, coordinator of the downtown and village tax credit program. “The goal is to prevent demolition of historic buildings and encourage reinvestment. Vermont ranks near the top in the number of tax credit projects.”
The town of Chester is in the process of obtaining a village center designation from the state. By doing so, it will enhance the town’s historic character and increase the town’s tax base, according to town officials.
“You have to clean up and maintain what you have and it may bring more people to these places, which indirectly increases their value and improves economic development,” said Select Board Chairman John DeBenedetti.
Town officials are now determining what the boundaries will be. DeBenedetti said it could be as far north as Town Hall, as far south as Grafton Road, as far west as Lovers Lane and as far east as the post office.
Corkins said the town of Chester is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is pre-qualified for federal tax credits. What differentiates the federal from the state program is eligibility requirements.
According to Corkins, the federal program is open to commercial buildings and private homes, whereas the state program applies to commercial buildings and rental properties. Federal guidelines for renovation projects are more flexible, while buildings in state-designated village centers are limited to general rehabilitation, code compliance, exterior improvements and other regulations.
Mount Holly, Ludlow, Weston, Plymouth and Cavendish have state-designated village centers. Chester is one of the only remaining towns in southern Windsor County without a village center designation.
Lynne Reed is the co-owner of Misty Valley Books located on the green in Chester. She said several historical homes are in need of renovations.
She agreed with DeBenedetti that the town needs a village center designation and tax credits can only benefit local businesses.
“I think it would be really great. It really would encourage people to buy buildings and rehabilitate them,” Reed said.
The Select Board will discuss the village center designation at an upcoming meeting on a date to be determined.