Cumberland council to review tax break for memory care facility

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council next week is scheduled to consider amending a U.S. Route 1 tax increment financing district to provide a tax break for a memory care facility.

The assisted living community for people with memory impairment – FMC Development of South Portland’s first facility of the kind – is due to open next year on next to Norton Financial. FMC is expected to acquire the property in a few weeks, Town Manager Bill Shane said in an interview June 29.

The facility will be about 8,600 square feet and have 12 residential units, plus common space, FMC manager Lynn Peel said in April.

Walking paths and a memory garden will also be part of the development, which Peel said is being built to feel more like “a big house, versus a small facility.”

The Planning Board approved the project site plan in March. The following month, the Town Council OK’d a credit enhancement agreement that will reimburse half the facility’s taxes for the first 20 years, or up to $500,000, whichever comes first.

But at its July 11 meeting, the council must amend Cumberland’s TIF District No. 1 to allow the credit enhancement.

The town established the district about 20 years ago to house a poker chip factory, a project that was never completed, Shane said. But the district remained in place, and the town amended it to extend credit enhancement agreements to both Norton and Planet Dog, which would have filled out the district.

Planet Dog also failed to come to fruition. The memory care facility will be on that property.

Because the TIF was worded to facilitate only Norton and Planet Dog, it must be reworded to include FMC, Shane said. That amendment requires a public hearing and communication with the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

“I don’t believe there’s going to be a issue,” the manager said.

The project is expected to generate $2 million in new value – the tax increment – which will be sheltered from the state’s assessment of the town’s value. That prevents the town from receiving a hike in county taxes and a drop in state education funding and revenue sharing.

Until the TIF district expires in 2027, the town will refund half the property taxes paid to FMC.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

An assisted-living facility for people with impaired memories is due to open next year on U.S. Route 1 in Cumberland, just north of Norton Financial.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.