Wilmington adopts new facade program


WILMINGTON -- For business owners interested in improving the front of their buildings, a new program could assist them in getting it done with a hand from the town.

"There's an application they have to fill out. It's a couple pages long." said Wilmington Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk. "Once accepted, there would be an agreement."

The Selectboard approved a facade improvement program on July 16 after it was previously proposed by Havreluk. It was approved pending some research involving the use of the town's 1 percent local option tax revenue policy.

Since it will be funded through that revenue stream, Town Manager Scott Murphy will be looking into whether the Selectboard has to go to voters for funding the program at the requested $75,000 a year. Voter approval is required for expenditures from local option tax revenue that are over $50,000.

"I'd like to double check before we approve the amount," said Murphy. "We won't hand (applications) out before the next meeting."

The program will be administered by the town, meaning the Selectboard will have the right to final approval. A draft for the program's policy states that commercial property owners can be awarded up to 75 percent reimbursement or direct payment to vendor of the total project cost between $500 and $5,000. A 25 percent cash match is required by applicants.

With renovations taking place downtown, there are several potential applicants. Businesses in other parts of town and rental properties of more than one unit can also take part in the program. Copies of the application will be available on wilmingtonvermont.us.

The one issue that Havreluk could foresee was the winter. Business owners would have to get moving on their improvements before the cold weather hit as projects must be completed within a year of approval.

"I feel the funding's going to go quickly," Havreluk added.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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