Wednesday February 6, 2013

The Selectboard discussed extending the boundary of the Designated Downtown District at the board meeting Tuesday night.

Taking part in the Vermont Designated Downtown program allows the town to apply for grants and historic tax credits, but to be in the state program the town has to establish the boundaries of the district within which the properties are eligible to take part in the programs.

At the meeting Tuesday the board talked about extending the district across Terrace Street and up Linden Street.

If the board approves the move it would obligate the owners of the properties housing Trust Company of Vermont, the Elks Lodge and Atamaniuk Funeral Home to join the district and pay the annual assessment that funds the designated downtown organization.

Brattleboro Planning Director Rod Francis called the area around the common the gateway to the downtown, and he said it seemed appropriate to have those properties included in the district.

"If you look at the boundary line it doesn't make sense," Town Manager Barbara Sondag said. "One side of Terrace Street is in the district and the other side is not."

The board put off that decision until at least its next meeting.

If the board does decide to move the line north it would require an ordinance change which would force two public hearings on the change.

The board also debated the possibility of extending the line to the west, up a portion of Canal Street.

As part of the board's discussion Tuesday, the town also decided to reapply for another five years in the Designated Downtown Program, which is administered by the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development.

Towns can ask to change the boundary lines at any time and do not need to consider the boundary lines at the time of reapplying for the district designation.

If the board does decide to apply for the boundary change the statewide Downtown Development Board would consider the request.

While debating the boundary the board tried to define why it made sense to extend the line toward the Brattleboro Common, but also why other parts of town might be included in the downtown district as well.

Selectboard member Chris Chapman said Canal Street has many restaurants and businesses and should maybe be considered as part of the downtown district. He also said lower South Main Street could be considered in the district if the boundary lines are extended.