Viewpoint: Stephanie Hurley and Carol Nelson – Expanding tax relief would be good for Peterborough

By STEPHANIE HURLEY and CAROL NELSON

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-25-2024 10:05 AM

Why vote for an amendment to the Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive RSA 79-E?

Plans are already underway for zoning amendments to be presented on the ballot at Town Meeting on May 14, and we are writing to explain how we want to expand this tax relief incentive, how it works and why it can be a benefit to Peterborough.

Currently, RSA 79-E is limited to buildings in the Village Commercial and the Downtown Commercial districts. The Planning Board is recommending the incentive apply to the entire town to encourage revitalization and reuse of underutilized properties. We feel that this revision is consistent with the goal of increasing the town’s economic vitality while utilizing existing but underused buildings rather than breaking new ground.

RSA 79-E provides temporary property tax relief to people who complete substantial renovations that provide public benefits, which include restoring a culturally or historically important building, promoting downtown development and economic vitality and increasing or retaining residential housing.

Property owners apply to the Select Board for this relief to be awarded. A project must meet 79-E guidelines, and the public benefit criteria. Approval is at the discretion of the Select Board, which must hold a public hearing where the board determines whether to accept the proposal and the duration of the tax freeze.

If approved, the property owner grants a covenant to the town that guarantees the property’s continued maintenance and use for a set period of time. The town continues to receive the pre-renovation taxes during the years of the exemption. Once the relief expires, the rehabilitated property is assessed at a higher value.

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We feel this is a “win-win” situation where the owner gets temporary savings for developing a property, while the town gets renovated properties and, eventually, the additional tax revenue for the renovated building.

Find a full explanation of RSA 79-E in “2024 Zoning Proposals” on the town website, peterboroughnh.gov, under “Planning Board.”

Additional zoning amendments are being considered. The public is encouraged to attend these public hearings held at 6 p.m. in the Select Board room of the Town House – Monday, Jan. 29, ADU ordinance revisions and rescinding parking minimums; and Monday, Feb. 12, rescinding the elderly housing ordinance.

Stephanie Hurley is a member of the Peterborough Planning Board, and Carol Nelson is a member of the Affordable Housing Committee.