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Hagerstown considers development incentives

July 07, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The City of Hagerstown is considering whether to offer developers tax breaks and other incentives to spur downtown development.

On Tuesday, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and several city department heads talked to the City Council about offering the incentives.

Zimmerman said Hagerstown officials have been meeting with developers to determine how the city's existing codes, fees and programs could be modified to help downtown development in today's sluggish economy.

The possible incentives discussed include:

o City property tax credits for commercial and residential properties

o Utility credits

o Permit fee waivers

o Expediting paperwork for proposed downtown projects

o Discounts at city parking facilities

o Rent assistance for new businesses that occupy upper floors

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o Easing code-enforcement restrictions.

o Providing education on Historic Tax Credit programs

o Creating amenities for residents and employees of downtown businesses, such as play areas for children

o Offering developers support through the Hagerstown Revolving Loan Fund and other existing programs

In order to receive the incentives, developers would have to rehabilitate properties in the downtown area that is bordered roughly by Church Street to the north, Baltimore Street to the south, Locust Street to the east and Prospect Street to the west, according to city documents.

The council gave initial approval to the incentives program and suggested putting it on the fast track for a vote.

Zimmerman said the council could vote on the proposal as early as next month.

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