I hate to write repeat columns on a very specific subject but in this column I am writing again about a proposed project to turn the Mallison Falls Mill in South Windham into apartments.

I think that it is a worthy project but since it is for multiple residential apartments I believe that it shouldn’t receive any tax breaks or government subsidies because residential development does place a burden on public services and schools. That’s something that the Town of Windham has failed at in the past and I am sure there will be some sticker shock to the price tag to do that in the future.

I also believe that our property taxes should be the same for all. If one receives a discount of around 50 percent then everyone should receive the same.

Before going into Tax Increment Financing (TIF), just a brief background on the project at Mallison Falls Mill so far. The proposed construction is to be conducted by Hardypond Construction of which I researched on the web and was impressed by some of their construction projects. The Windham town councilors rezoned the area into dense residential, which is fine by me and besides, that was more or less the first requirement for the project to get off the ground.

Second, the councilors turned down a request to make at least a portion of Mallison Falls Road into a one-way street. I’ll address that in a minute. As the site is contaminated but not as bad as the Keddy Mill area, the company requested an environmental cleanup revolving loan from the Greater Portland Council of Governments and did receive that loan, which is a good thing.

Traffic is still a continuing problem at the mill site, mainly because of a railroad trestle that sits right next to the mill property. Unfortunately there is a downhill curve on the other side of the trestle, which makes for a narrow view for vehicles, or even people, coming out of the mill complex. The railroad bridge was struck by a box truck, which caused some damage. I tried to research to find the cost of those repairs but found nothing but I believe it was expensive so I doubt the Maine Department of Transportation would want to finance making a large opening to improve the view for drivers using that road.

Maybe traffic lights and/or stop signs could help but it would definitely hinder commuters using the road. The Windham town manager has stated that if the traffic problems couldn’t be solved, then the project more than likely won’t receive approval.

One thing the Windham Town Council has to discuss is setting up a TIF for the developers of the Mallison Falls Mill site, which would give them a property tax break. The initial workshop was scheduled for Dec. 15 so it should be available on the town’s website or at the Windham library. The TIF that is being requested is for a sum of money totaling around $3 million or least a good portion of that.

I consider any TIF given to developers as nothing more than corporate welfare, which I feel some in our local town government have no problem with whatsoever. One of the best newspaper columns I have read on TIFs was in the Forecaster of Sept. 7, and written by Orlando Delogu, emeritus professor at the University of Maine School of Law. The reader should go to the Forecaster website and read this excellent article on TIFs. The type of TIF being requested for the Mallison Falls Mill is nothing more than corporate welfare.

We in Windham will probably hear such things as blight, economic development, employment and God knows what else those in town government can dream of to get the TIF enacted for the Hardypond project.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham believes development actually increases residential property taxes.

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