NAUGATUCK — Waterbury and Naugatuck officials have struck a tentative agreement to equally split any tax revenue from a big industrial development the municipalities are jointly pursuing along their shared border.
Waterbury owns 146.6 acres straddling the town line. A little more than two-thirds of it is within the city limits.
City officials have long sought to develop it. Decades ago a casino was contemplated, then a mall. But the steep approach from Waterbury’s South Main Street has long frustrated that hope.
Residents along the few residential roads that might have allowed access were strongly opposed to industrial traffic on their streets.
For more than a year, the city and borough have developed a plan to access the land through Naugatuck’s industrial park.
That access was made possible with a joint $390,000 purchase of a 10.5 acre property on Great Hill Road last November. In June, the state Bond Commission approved a $2.8 million grant for pushing a roadway and utilities into the undeveloped property.
Before the state hands over the money, however, both municipalities have to sign an agreement concerning how they’ll share revenue from the development, according to Waterbury Development Corp. interim CEO James Nardozzi.
Naugatuck’s Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week unanimously approved the agreement with a slight modification.
Before bringing the motion to a vote, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess removed language from the agreement that gave Waterbury the right to terminate it if the project couldn’t be put together. He said the wording was put in before the two municipalities received the grant.
Waterbury’s Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the proposal within the month.
The draft agreement would have Waterbury buy Naugatuck’s share of the 10.5-acre Great Hill Road property. Any money from a sale of that land and the other city property would then go wholly to Waterbury.
Any tax revenue generated on the property on either side of the border would be evenly split.
There is no definitive plan for the land yet, but Hess said the hope is to develop a single building that could be up to 900,000 square feet.
He said buildings that large are rare in the state and having one would make it easy to market.
“If you are looking for a large space in the state of Connecticut, you can’t just go out and lease an 800,000- or 900,000-square-foot building. They don’t exist. There is a need for them,” Hess said.
Hess said negotiations with his counterpart — Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary — were friendly and very quick.
“We came to an arrangement that is clearly in the interest of both towns and it resolves all the topographical issues,” Hess said. “I think it’s a simple, logical, great, deal for the city and for Naugatuck. And I credit Mayor O’Leary for recognizing it and agreeing.”
Attorney Gary O’Connor, who worked on the agreement for the city, said there is about an equal amount of developable land on either side of the border.
“That made it easy in terms of the tax agreement,” O’Connor said.
Under the agreement, the city will lead the development effort, in consultation with the borough. The Waterbury Development Corp. will act as project manager.
“I think it’s great,” O’Connor said. “The state was very excited about it, to have a joint project like this with cooperation between two municipalities.”
Luke Marshall contributed to this article.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original post to include information from the Naugatuck Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting on Oct. 2.