Beacon Falls voters OK one of two tax incentive applications

BEACON FALLS — Voters approved one of two tax incentive applications at a town meeting last week.

The Goldenrod Corporation, which is located at 25 Lancaster Drive, and Dibra LLC, which is based in Seymour, applied for tax abatements under the town’s tax incentive ordinance, which was approved by voters in March.

The ordinance offers tax abatements for businesses that invest in a new commercial building or improvements to an existing commercial building. The incentives are offered in three tiers based on how much money is invested in a building.

The Goldenrod Corporation plans to add on to its more than 30,000-square-foot building on Lancaster Drive. Dibra applied for the incentive for a new, nearly 1,900-square-foot building being built at 113 South Main St.

The Board of Selectmen previously approved the two applications, but they had to be approved at a town meeting to go into effect.

Voters unanimously approved the Goldenrod Corporation’s application, 19-0, at an Aug. 28 town meeting.

However, when it came to Dibra, which is owned by developer Mario Trepca, voters rejected the application 10-8 with one abstention. Selectman Peter Betkoski abstained without comment during the meeting. Betkoski’s company, Betkoski Brothers, has previously done work for Trepca, and Betkoski received a loan from Trepca.

Selectman Michael Krenesky raised concerns about the application because Dibra isn’t based in Beacon Falls. He believed the ordinance should only apply to business owners who are based in town.

“He is not a business in the town of Beacon Falls. He is a developer. His business is actually in Seymour,” Krenesky said.

Krenesky said it was a stretch to believe the ordinance would allow him to be eligible for the incentive.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik pointed to the section of the ordinance that states the town is allowed to enter into an abatement with anyone who owns or proposes to own any real property in Beacon Falls.

Bielik called the idea that abatements should not be given to developers who want to build in Beacon Falls a misreading of the ordinance.

“It does not specifically require that the developer be the business operator of whatever that business is that is being built. The object of this ordinance is to get infrastructure built in this town,” Bielik said. “I vehemently disagree with anyone who says this particular business developer does not qualify under the standards of the ordinance the way that it is written.”

Concerns have also been raised in the past that Trepca has only paid for one sewer hookup for the building being built at 113 South Main St. The building could potentially have two tenants, which would require two hookups.

Bielik said the town has collected one sewer hookup fee of $4,000 right now because there is only one tenant assigned to move into half of the building.

“In order for a second certificate of occupancy to be issued for the second side of the building an additional $4,000 sewer hookup fee will be required. … Our building inspector has been instructed not to issue that CO until and unless that second hookup fee has been received,” Bielik said.

The Goldenrod Corporation will receive a four-year tax incentive that abates 50 percent of taxes in the first year and incrementally decreases to 20 percent in the fourth year, under the ordinance.

After the meeting, Bielik said he wasn’t sure if there are any circumstances under which Trepca could reapply for the abatement for the building.