Selectmen to look at first-floor retail ‘incentive fund’ Wednesday

A proposal to create a “first floor retail incentive fund” for the village district is expected to be made by the Economic and Community Development Commission at next week’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

“The proposal will request funding through tax abatements,” said John Devine of the Economic and Community Development Commission, or ECDC.

The tax abatement incentives are designed to encourage first-floor commercial space in the village to be rented to retail operations — on the theory that maintaining a mix of retailers is key to the vitality of the Main Street business district.

The incentive fund is being proposed as an alternative after the idea of a zoning regulation requiring first-floor retail ran into opposition.

The selectmen’s meeting in which it’s expected to be discussed is next Wednesday, Oct. 25, starting at 6:30 in the town hall.

The ECDC has been working on the first-floor retail issue since last winter, when the Planning and Zoning Commission called a meeting on the subject that had a room in the Town Hall Annex “full with retailers and residents advocating,” Devine said.

“As a result, the ECDC formed a task force to develop a plan,” he said.

The ECDC task force worked with leaders from the Downtown Ridgefield association, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street landlords represented by Urstadt Biddle, and Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti.

“It has been a long process,” said Devine.