East Providence council gives first passage to amended Chevron TIF agreement

Assists with infrastructure improvements, allows developers to access loans on better terms with lenders

By Mike Rego
Posted 11/8/18

EAST PROVIDENCE — In a meeting that had more acrimony than accomplishment, the City Council, Wednesday night, Nov. 7, did approve one significant piece of legislation by giving the first of two …

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East Providence council gives first passage to amended Chevron TIF agreement

Assists with infrastructure improvements, allows developers to access loans on better terms with lenders

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — In a meeting that had more acrimony than accomplishment, the City Council, Wednesday night, Nov. 7, did approve one significant piece of legislation by giving the first of two necessary passages to an amended Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) ordinance pertaining to the Chevron Corporation’s proposed redevelopment of the energy giant’s parcel of land off Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Chevron is seeking a revision to the agreement, allowing for the TIF rates, which ascend over a period of 10 years, to be applied to about double the amount it and the city settled upon back in 2010. Then, the entities cosigned on a $17.694 million figure for the project being proposed under the working title of “Village on the Waterfront.” The amended pact would see that number grow to $32.1 million.
TIF arrangements allow for land owners or developers to borrow money from lending institutions for infrastructure improvements against a schedule of lower municipal property taxation rates on the designated property. In this specific case, among the planned updates at the Chevron location in an extension of Waterfront Drive southward. It will also allow the proprietors to install utilities (i.e. electric, water, sewer) necessary for redevelopment to proceed.
Reached for comment after the meeting, Acting City Planning Director Diane Feather said, “I wholeheartedly endorse the TIF modification as it reflects current market conditions for land use rather than those at the time of the 2010 TIF approval. The amendment is crucial in stimulating approximately $200 million of private investment for mixed-use development and other improvements in the city’s waterfront, including increased public recreational access. Residents should know that no existing tax revenues are obligated and there is no impact to the city’s general fund or its full faith and credit if the project does not proceed.”
At a meeting last month, a consultant to Chevron reasoned to the council why the TIF changes were necessary. As part of the Waterfront Drive extension, the height of the road bed needs to be raised because of the groundwater level. In addition, a bio-retention center median and trees have been added to the design for stormwater control. As well, he said the removal of the existing wharf, believed to cost about $800,000, has increased to nearly $4 million. The wharf demolition spiked in part because specialist divers were needed to remove the underwater moorings. Also, Chevron plans to continue remediation efforts as the site.
The scale and theme of the project, likewise, have been altered. Instead of a plan leaning more towards residential housing units, the new proposal would seek one focused on commercial use with more hospitality and entertainment components, while giving greater general public access to the location  via a new wharf and a larger parkland area.
East Providence Waterfront Commission Chairman William Fazioli also said post-forum, “Over the course of 2018 the Waterfront Commission has had several workshops and public hearings on this proposal and has concluded that this TIF amendment would have a considerable net benefit to East Providence in terms of future revenues and employment opportunities. We are very fortunate to have a company like Chevron, who has striven to enhance the development potential of this site by continually investing substantial resources intended to move the project forward. We believe that their investments will benefit adjacent properties within the District as well.”
2019 meeting schedule
Of note as well from last week, the council approved the 2019 meeting schedule for the body as well as that for its role as the city’s claims committee. The meetings occur concurrently except for inauguration night, January 8, when the council will not hold a claims session.
The 2019 City Council meetings schedule is as follows: January 8 (inauguration) and 22; February 5 and 19; March 5 and 19; April 2 and 16; May 7 and 21; June 4 and 18; July 16; August 20; September 3 and 17; October 1 and 15; November 5 and 19; and December 3 and 17. All public sessions are slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. subject to prior change.
Contentious moments
Some long-simmering tensions among the body, which has spilled over from time to time throughout the last several months especially, were on full display last week.
Ward 4 Councilor Brian Faria, who remains the subject of legal proceedings between himself and his peers over documents he is alleged to have procured from the legal department in April of this year, and Acting City Manager/East Providence Police Chief Christopher Parella sparred at times over the proposed extension of sidewalks on the streets near Waddington Elementary School. The two also had a terse exchange over the city’s continued pursuit of a contract with Siemens dealing with the replacement of lights on streets and other municipally-owned properties.
Mr. Faria as well exchanged pointed remarks with Ward 3 Councilor Joe Botelho over a docket item which would have amended the schedule of water/sewer usage rate fees. No action, however, was taken on the matter.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.