Woodmont’s Kettenbech Says He’s Paying, Pettengill Isn’t

Woodmont Commons developer Michael Kettenbech voiced some frustration with the process when Woodmont’s fiscal analysis report was questioned by members of the Planning Board last week. He pointed out the positive tax impact to the town of his development, compared to the town’s effort to obtain funding to build out Pettengill Road, which would benefit private landowners.

The Woodmont analysis (see story this page), which showed a positive tax impact after the 20-year build out, prompted some members of the board to suggest repeatedly that there could be scenarios that would cause a negative tax impact, such as the possibility of the town’s having to purchase a fire truck to handle a fire at a proposed four or five story building, if that building were erected in the first few years.

“Is it safe to assume that infrastructure requirements are front end loaded than say, toward the end?” board member John Laferriere asked at the Wednesday, June 26 meeting. Attorney Ari Pollack, the attorney for Woodmont, said, “I think the answer is yes.”

“So if that’s the case, what I think I’ve heard so far from the board is the concern that you’re painting this picture of being cash flow positive from day one, but if we agree the infrastructure is front end loaded, regardless of what type of facility goes in first, like we said earlier, a fire truck is needed so it can go over the top of a building to get water somewhere or to the height of a building that is being proposed, we’re still going to have to assume a $1 plus million to buy a fire truck, and we’re going to have to put it in some kind of facility somewhere that we’ll have to build, so you see where all of a sudden we’re into spending $3 million or $4 million for a large building for a fire truck only,” Laferriere said.
Lucy Gallo of Development, Planning and Financing Group (DPFG) said an analysis of a 20-year build out could be based on a thousand sets of variables.

“Would it be safe to assume you’d have to factor that into the infrastructure to be built out?” Laferriere continued. “I’m going to assume that everything south of Pillsbury Road would be built first. Isn’t that a pretty good start in order to get what it’s going to cost in infrastructure to build that particular part of the project out?”

Pollack said he could picture different scenarios, and noted the report as given is correct. “Another scenario is that we become ahead of the analysis and things like impact fees, offsite exactions, things like paying a pro rata share of what the community expends on capital improvements becomes part of every site plan approval, just like it has been in the past with the town,” Pollack said.

He said as far as road building, a scenario could be that those cost components could be part of the development agreement. “The mission here was to show that there was a reasonable projection, a reasonable certainty to show that the development would be positive, and I think we’ve shown that,” Pollack said.

He said he didn’t think they could do better than that without going into every possible scenario. “I can take it a step further,” said Kettenbach. “I’m here today saying I’m going to build a lot of my roads in my project. The town is going to build roads for other people and they’re going to pay for it. Do I get credit for the roads that I build? Are you going to give me credit for that? Or are you going to have a quid pro quo within the community?

“I’m standing here today, I’m here today trying to propose a project we tried to give you the best analysis we could, and yet I’m looking at inequity in the community on my project that the town is proposing on the other side of town (Pettengill Road) that gives a gift to developers,” Kettenbach said. “It’s to build a road and ‘they’ll come.’ OK, that’s fine, the community’s doing that, but are you going to build my roads and I’ll come? I don’t think that’s quite an equal basis for what we’re doing here, and yet we’ve always been positive.

“We’re trying to show you that we’re always positive and that we’re taking the steps to show you we’re positive, plus we’re here today,” Kettenbach emphasized. “We’re not saying spend $8 million to build a road with no infrastructure in it. We’re saying, we’re here today and we’re going to be here and we’re going to be cash positive for the community. We haven’t done the development agreement yet but I’m sure there’ll be some quid pro quo in there.”

Kettenbach empasized he has 640 acres in his development, was spending money, and is showing his development would be cash positive. He told the board it had to ask itself if the development team had to look at the development in a fair and equitable way.

“Have we met the conditions and have we shown you that we can be cash positive? I think as a developer that we are going to be so cash positive on the front end that the community is going to have to make a decision and be careful not to overspend the revenues coming in for the future when it hits a flat rate, and I think that is something we have to consider as well,” Kettenbach concluded.

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