Five Corners District Improvement Financing (DIF) Program and District
Five Corners DIF Program Master Plan Presentation to the Board of Selectmen
The Town voted to establish the Five Corners District Improvement Financing District Program at Annual Town Meeting, May 20, 2019. Click here for the Five Corners DIF Program Master Plan as adopted at Town Meeting.
The Board of Selectmen voted to accept the Five Corners DIF Program Master Plan at their meeting on April 29, 2019. They also voted to include an article to establish the Five Corners DIF Program, as set forth in the Five Corners DIF Program Master Plan, on the 2019 Annual Town Meeting warrant and to recommend the DIF program at Town Meeting. The Master Plan includes the process for establishing the DIF Program, the projects that may be funded by the program, the expected new growth revenues and financing plans, and the ongoing management of the DIF District.
On November 19, 2018, the first phase of the Five Corners DIF Program was presented to the Board of Selectmen. This presentation, available by clicking here, highlighted the methodology and findings of a detailed feasibility study, completed by Camoin Associates, to determine whether the Town should consider establishing a DIF Program and District in the Five Corners to support ongoing sewer infrastructure projects and future infrastructure improvements. Camoin Associates, a highly respected economic development consulting firm, was commissioned by the town to undertake the feasibility study. The full Phase I report and recommendation from Camoin Associates is available by clicking here.
In addition to the presentation to the Board of Selectmen in February, public information sessions were held on March 12 and April 4 to present the Five Corners DIF Program Master Plan to the public and to answer questions regarding the program. A copy of that presentation is available by clicking here.
What is District
Improvement Financing (DIF)?
•Legal framework Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40Q
•Uses a portion of future new growth revenues resulting from public infrastructure improvements to offset the capital costs for those improvements
Why is Easton Considering a DIF Program for Five Corners?
•Help support sewer development in Five Corners to reduce the estimated betterment fees for residents and businesses
•Support future infrastructure improvements in Five Corners to advance Envision Easton Master Plan and Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan
*Financing tool used to help pay capital investment costs in economic growth districts
*Locally-designed, locally-approved (must be adopted by Town Meeting)
*Combinable with other grants, public/private partnerships and borrowing
*Communicates commitment to investing in district and economic development
DIF is not:
*A new tax, tax rate increase or special assessment
*Guaranteed revenue stream – New Growth must occur in the District
*A reduction in current general fund revenues
What has the Town Done to Advance the Five Corners DIF so far?
Who Can I Contact with Questions or Comments about the Five Corners DIF Program?
Please contact Director of Planning and Economic Development Stephanie Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-230-0630.
Five Corners DIF Program History
The revitalization of the Five Corners district has been planned for many years. Easton’s Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan, first drafted in 2004 with the final complete report issued in 2014, identified the Five Corners as a high needs area for centralized wastewater treatment. The plan recognizes economic development in the district is constrained by the costs associated within constructing onsite wastewater treatment capacity.
The town’s master plan Envision Easton identifies the Five Corners as an area targeted for growth and development and includes objectives to increase sewer capacity where it can positively affect economic development and accommodate new residential development. Both the CWMP and Envision Easton identify Five Corners for sewer development, and the Town has worked to advance that vision for many years, including multiple votes of Town Meeting to advance project funding to purchase 165,000 gallons per day of capacity from Mansfield in 2015, construct the first phase of the project in 2017, and most recently to appropriate $13.5M for the second phase of construction scheduled to begin in 2019.
During a recent public visioning session, residents and business owners defined their vision of the future for the Five Corners. Looking out over the next 10 – 15 years, they see an area that feels more like a vibrant, mixed-use, neighborhood where people live, shop, eat, play and work. The two commercial book-ends of the district will become mixed-use centers offering restaurants, stores, entertainment and places to socialize linked by a modern road, walkways and bicycle accommodations.
The first critical step in achieving this vision is bringing sewer to the district. The first phase of sewer construction has already triggered interest in redevelopment of the old Foundry site. Future infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks and streetscape and roadway improvements, as well as zoning reform, such as the Compact Neighborhood Overlay District which was recently adopted, will catalyze additional private investment in in the district.
Long-range planning has helped position the town to take advantage of various financing tools to help fund these projects. The town will take advantage of the State Revolving Fund program, which provides no-interest loans for sewer construction projects. Easton is one of only 19 communities in the state to receive a Housing Choice grant this fall in the amount of $225,000 to support this project, have additional grant applications pending, and we have completed the first phase of the study to determine if establishing a District Improvement Financing Program will help offset some of the sewer construction costs and possibly other infrastructure projects.