After 14 months of public hearings and meetings in which numerous Stonington town officials and boards endorsed the proposed Campbell Grain housing development, misinformation about the project continues to be spread as residents consider how to vote in the town’s Oct. 5th referendum.
It’s time to set the record straight on why you should vote “No” to move this important proposal forward, bringing needed affordable housing, tax revenues and small business economic activity to a vacant property that has been little more than an eyesore in downtown Pawcatuck for a decade.
FICTION: Campbell Grain is a tax giveaway.
FACT: The current property pays $3,000 a year in property taxes. The proposed development will pay an average $60,000 a year in property taxes for the first 10 years and will pay more than $120,000 a year in taxes afterward. That doesn’t count personal property taxes, municipal fees or sewer fees. To compete for state funding, Stonington must show it is making its own investment, which is exactly what the fixed assessment accomplishes — without requiring the town or its taxpayers to use any funds.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will be a financial burden for the town.
FACT: This project will produce a net fiscal benefit for Stonington, delivering more tax revenue and user fees than expenditures during and after the 10-year fixed tax assessment. The net positive impact for the town will be $112,520 per year during that 10-year period and $181,573 once the agreement expires. The purchase price also will pay off $78,000 in liens owed to the town for its clean-up of the property over the years.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will overwhelm the schools.
FACT: Stonington’s student count has been declining for years. Even after adding 421 new housing units since 2007, Stonington schools have 648 fewer students. The school district has more than sufficient capacity to handle any new pupils from a development with only 12 three-bedroom apartments.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will create traffic.
FACT: Numerous town officials, including the police chief, agree the traffic generated by the project will have minimal impact on existing conditions. Computer modeling by a licensed traffic engineer predicts 33 total trips (six entering and 27 exiting) from 8 to 9 a.m. and 35 total trips (30 entering and five exiting) from 4 to 5 p.m. Apartment buildings generate significantly fewer trips than a typical coffee shop, pharmacy or grocery store.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will be swept away in a flood.
FACT: The site for this project on Coggswell Street is well above grade. The base of the building will be two feet above the 100-year flood mark. Since the first floor of the building will be a parking garage, the apartments will begin on the second floor and they will be 17 feet above the 100-year flood level.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will NOT help the people who need it.
FACT: The development will create 82 apartments, of which 65 will be affordable for individuals and families with incomes ranging from $21,630 to $85,640, depending on the size of the unit. Municipal employees, service workers and retirees are just a few of those who would qualify, and they will be a boon to local small businesses. Rents will be required to be affordable for 40 years.
FICTION: Campbell Grain will be operated by an absentee landlord.
FACT: The property would be staffed full-time by a management company that has been working in Connecticut for 40 years, employs 85 Connecticut residents and buys goods and services from numerous Connecticut businesses. In 2020 and 2019, it was named Management Company of the Year by the Connecticut Apartment Association.
The Oct. 5 referendum question asks whether voters wish to overturn the fixed tax assessment agreement that a Town Meeting approved by a 2-1 margin in August. We trust voters to decide on the facts, not fiction, and you can get the facts for yourself at www.campbellgrain.com.
We urge the Stonington community to vote “No” to keep the agreement in place and to move the Campbell Grain project forward so that it can earn the state financing it needs to be built. This project has been scrutinized and endorsed by local leaders. They all agree: It is well-planned and cash flow positive to the town. Your “No” vote will expand affordable housing, the tax base and economic activity for downtown Pawcatuck.
Larry Curtis is president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment, the developer of Campbell Grain. Jim Lathrop is a downtown Pawcatuck business and property owner.