Citywide Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) 2019 - 2029
Our Vision for Norwalk
By 2029, the City of Norwalk has become a national example of a small city that boasts a thriving and dynamic economy; varied housing choices for all income levels; many safe and convenient ways to get around the city, including walking and biking; connected, accessible and beautiful open spaces; a commitment to lifelong learning; and an active and resilient coastline. Norwalk is the center of art, culture and entertainment for our region. We combine the character of a historic New England community on the coast of Long Island Sound with a thriving city in the country’s largest metropolitan area.
- Our prosperity is rooted in retaining the foundation of our diversified economy, including health care and Fortune 500 companies, while attracting businesses in emerging fields. These businesses allow many Norwalk residents to work where they live, provide living-wage jobs for all skill levels, and create a strong non-residential tax base
- We’re a center of culture and entertainment, attracting local and regional visitors to our urban districts of SoNo and Norwalk Center; our museums, aquarium and historic sites; and our parks and natural open spaces.
- We’re proud of our racial and ethnic diversity and continue to welcome people from around the world.
- Norwalk’s excellent quality of life offers a choice of housing options in neighborhoods ranging from lively urban centers of varied densities and suburban–style areas, to quiet, treefilled enclaves and coastal villages.
- We’re a city of transportation choice: a connected, walking and biking city, well-served by public transportation, safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle routes to city destinations, well-maintained and well-functioning local streets, and efficient regional transportation links.
- Norwalk’s parks, natural open spaces, and waterfront attractions work as a green and blue network linked by trails and other routes and offering recreational and nature experiences to all.
- Norwalk protects and enhances the natural environment and land, water, and air resources for the benefit of future generations.
- Norwalk Harbor remains a major center of water-based activities on Long Island Sound, providing opportunities for recreation and commerce: public access for recreation and education, recreational boating, commercial shellfishing, and other vital economic, environmental, and cultural values and opportunities.
- Norwalk embraces lifelong learning through public-private partnerships. Our schools and Norwalk Community College promote educational achievement to create a highlyqualified workforce for 21st-century jobs. Norwalk seeks a strong higher education presence in its urban center to spark art, innovation and activity.
- We’re committed to energy- and resource-efficiency, as well as to pursuing solutions and adaptations to the expected impacts of climate change and sea-level rise–coastal and inland flooding, extreme storms, extreme temperatures, and drought.
- The City’s infrastructure, public facilities, and public services are resource-efficient, well-maintained, cost-effective, sustainable, and resilient.
What is an Enterprise Zone (EZ)?
An enterprise zone is a designated geography in which taxes are abated as of right for a period of 7 years to encourage new development and business growth in underutilized areas. Urban enterprise zone policies generally offer tax concessions, infrastructure incentives, and reduced regulations to attract investments and private companies into the zones. Urban enterprise zones are intended to encourage development in deprived neighborhoods through tax and regulatory relief to entrepreneurs and investors who launch businesses or develop in the area.
What is the eligibility criteria for establishing an Enterprise Zone?
The census tracts within an EZ must be zoned to allow commercial or industrial activity and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Twenty-five per cent or more of the persons within the individual census tracts shall have income below the poverty level;
- Twenty-five per cent or more of the families within the individual census tracts shall receive public assistance or welfare income; or
- The unemployment rate of the individual census tracts shall be at least two hundred per cent of the state’s average.
How do Enterprise Zones Work?
Within the Enterprise Zone, taxes on improvements to any property within the geography are deferred for a period of 7 years: 100% for the first two years, 50% for the third year, 40% for the 4th year, 30% for the 5th year, 20% for the 6th year, and 10% for the 7th year. After the 7 year term, taxes will be at the true rate. If used for housing development, units must be affordable to 200% of the area median income or abatement will be revoked.
What is the implementation process?
The implementation process for extending the EZ is as follows:
- Public hearing held at a Planning Committee Meeting
- Planning Committee votes of the enterprise zone extension to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee to amend the current EZ ordinance
- Ordinance Committee holds a public hearing and amends the Enterprise Zone ordinance to include the extended geography
- Common Council votes on the new ordinance language
- If approved, the property owners can take advantage of the tax deferral as of right
What are some key facts related to Enterprise Zones?
- 7-year term
- No loss in existing tax base revenue
- As of right
- Low barriers to entry
- Low legislative involvement
- Shorter implementation process
- Little reporting required
- Must include a physical improvement as it is a deferral on property tax increases due to improvements
- Can be layered with other incentives/programs
Are there any precedents for other Enterprise Zones?
- South Norwalk
- New Haven
- Many other CT Municipalities (Hartford, Bridgeport, etc.)
What is a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF)?
A TIF is a public financing method and value capture strategy that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects or programs in a defined geography. Through the use of TIF, municipalities typically divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area toward an economic development project or public improvement project or program in the designated geography. TIF subsidies are not appropriated directly from a city's budget but the city incurs loss through foregone tax revenue as tax revenue for that geography is lock-boxed for that geography and TIF financial plan. Different approaches to making improvements are possible through a TIF as they allow more local government control rather than only what state statutes allow. TIFs are mainly used to make needed investment in neighborhoods through tax relief in areas that require additional and focused improvements than may occur naturally.
What is the eligibility criteria for establishing a TIF District?
A portion of the real property within a tax increment district shall meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Be a substandard, insanitary, deteriorated, deteriorating or blighted area;
- Be in need of rehabilitation, redevelopment or conservation work; or
- Be suitable for industrial, commercial, residential, mixed-use or retail uses, downtown development or transit-oriented development.
Additionally, the original assessed value of a proposed tax increment district plus the original assessed value of all existing tax increment districts within the municipality may not exceed ten per cent of the total value of taxable property within the municipality.
How do TIF Districts work?
As businesses locate in a TIF district and the area redevelops, the property values rise. Rather than simply collecting the increased taxes from TIF district properties, the city splits the property tax revenues into two streams. The first stream is set at the original amount of the property value before redevelopment, known as the “base rate.” This stream continues to go to the general fund.
The second stream contains the additional tax money generated by the higher property value, or the “tax increment.” This stream does not go to the city or schools, but is kept separate and used to pay for items identified in the TIF financial plan. TIF revenues can be used to fund construction, improvements, repairs, and rehabilitations within the district as well as economic development programs, economic development revolving loan funds, investment funds, services and equipment necessary for employment training, and specific uses associated with the district.