Applications Being Accepted for 2021 Neighborhood Assistance Act Program

Neighborhood assistance program in Norwalk If you're a nonprofit in Norwalk, CT you may be interested in applying for the Connecticut NeighborhoodAssistance Act Program (NAA). The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency is handling the application process for tax exempt organizations in Norwalk. The deadline for applying is 5 p.m. on May 10, 2021.  What is the Neighborhood Assistance Act Program? Read on and we'll fill you in on the details on how it works and how both area businesses and the Norwalk community benefit from this program.

Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act Program

The Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act program is a tax credit program designed to incentivize businesses to provide funding to support approved municipal and tax-exempt organizations. Businesses may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 60% of the amount they contribute to one of these organizations. Tax credits may even go as high as 100% of the contribution amounts for certain qualified programs.

How Do Nonprofits Qualify For The Program?  

Community programs must be approved by both the municipality in which the programs are conducted and by Connecticut’s Department of Revenue Services. A tax exempt organization interested in participating in the NAA Program must first complete in its entirety the program proposal application, Form NAA-01. This form must be submitted for approval to the municipality where the tax exempt organization’s program is conducted. In Norwalk that is the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. All approved applications will then be sent to the CT Department of Revenue for another round of reviews. Organizations that qualify include, but are not limited to:
  • Employment and training
  • Energy conservation
  • Child care services
  • Substance abuse
  • Neighborhood assistance

What Are The Guidelines For Businesses?

Although the program is available to a wide range of businesses, there are some parameters to be followed to qualify. For one, the annual tax credit is limited to $150,000. There is also a minimum contribution amount of at least $250 to qualify for the program.  The application process for businesses can be done online through the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services website.

NAA Application Process in Norwalk

All tax exempt organizations in Norwalk will follow this process: 
  1. The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency will collect applications and, after a public hearing, will present them to the Norwalk Planning Committee and Common Council for approval. Then the Agency will submit applications approved by the City of Norwalk to the CT Dept. of Revenue Services.
  2. The Dept. of Revenue Services will post on their website the list of approved applicants for businesses to review as potential community programs to make a contribution towards.
  3. Businesses wishing to sponsor a community program will have to fill out and submit Form NAA-02 between September 15th and October 1st. No earlier and no later.
  4. Later in the fall, CT Dept. of Revenue Services will notify municipalities of the applications that received contributions from companies. At that point, municipalities are asked to notify the organizations directly.
Nonprofit applications must be sent via email to koleary@norwalkct.org before 5 p.m. on May 10, 2021. For more information, or to have any questions answered about the NAA, visit the Department of Revenue Services or call 860-297-5687. Applicants are also welcome to contact Katie O’Leary at the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency at koleary@norwalkct.org.

More information on CT NAA Program

Form NAA-01

Initial Recommendations for Norwalk’s Industrial Zones

“Industry” in the 21st century has come to have a different meaning than in the last century. For some, 2021-03-10 Steering Committee Meeting - Draft Recommendations (2)industrial zones may conjure up images of belching smoke stacks. But now, the modern industrial zone is something quite different. The manufacturing sector is seen more and more as including a variety of businesses that can be vital to creating vibrant local neighborhoods, offering a range of benefits from creative placemaking to employment opportunities.

The Changing Face of Industry

In many ways the new image of industry stems from the fact that manufacturing firms have changed radically over time. Across the United States, we are moving from a manufacturing sector dominated by mass producers with hundreds of employees to small and medium-sized businesses that are celebrated for keeping it local. Because of this, cities are redefining what industrial usage is as they take a look at their industrial zones. Today, not all industrial uses are the same. They can be small-scale, less intensive uses such as small-batch manufacturing, woodworking, metalworking, machining, product design, printing, apparel and textiles, brewery and bakeries. Industrial uses can also include “light industries” including smaller-scale R&D, industrial services, distribution, building materials sale & storage and warehousing. Heavy industrial uses may include vehicle sale/service, storage/junkyards, asphalt and concrete plants, industrial processing, oil/petroleum/propane gas storage, solid waste transfer, recycling and composting.

Zones In Norwalk

Norwalk has three defined industrial zones: industrial 1, industrial 2 and restricted industrial. In addition, industrial uses are also allowed in certain other business zones.  The kinds of activities that are allowed in these zones include manufacturing and processing, research and development, printing, warehousing, storage and wholesale distribution. These zones also allow for other uses that are not industrial, but accompany industrial uses such as offices and retail, artist workspaces, and even multifamily and single family housing. Norwalk is setting out to reclassify and simplify its industrial zones. Recently, the committee studying this, presented the following recommendations: 
  1. Simplify zoning into three new types of zones: 
    • Industrial
    • Mixed Use Commercial/Industrial
    • Mixed Use Residential/Commercial/Industrial
  2. In the Mixed Use Residential/Commercial/Industrial district, encourage ground floor boutique manufacturing and live/work spaces by allowing building height increases. For example, in neighborhoods such as the East Norwalk or Wall and West Avenue areas, the City could look to create incentives for light industry such as allowing property owners to maintain and grow businesses while allowing for residential spaces above them.
  3. In the Mixed Use Commercial/Industrial Zones, allow for hybrid building types such as in South Norwalk along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Wilson and Woodward Avenues  or North Norwalk along Perry Avenue.
  4. Distinguish the difference between the types and intensity of contractor yards from each other and from other industrial uses and identify more suitable locations and sites. Contractor yards pose problems when they are located along narrow residential streets or when they are near road networks and intersections which can cause conflict with their truck traffic. Currently, contractor yards are permitted by right in Norwalk in industrial zones in South and East Norwalk, but they are also permitted by special permit in other business zones in the City.
  5. Develop separate plans for the Norden site and the waterfront. The Norden Site is a large parcel (37 acres) but truck traffic now must move to and from the site through roads with no direct access to I-95. The committee’s recommendations are that this site should be considered for other suitable land uses such as industrial/commercial with passenger traffic only. Industrial uses around waterfront areas should promote access to the waterfront and be in compliance with and under the guidance of the City’s Harbor Management Plan.
The Industrial Zone Planning Committee will continue to refine its recommendations as it moves ahead, following up with the City’s industrial businesses, and with input and feedback from the public via public outreach sessions being scheduled for late April, 2021.

See Draft Recommendations Presentation

Watch Draft Recommendations Session 

 

Surveying Norwalkers on Industrial Zones

Norwalk's Industrial ZonesIndustrial zones have been integral parts of cities for decades, allowing certain areas to be designated for industrial and commercial use. Following the  2019-2029  Citywide Plan, Norwalk is assessing its industrial zones to see if these areas are still appropriate for industrial uses, as well as taking a look at how to better use these zones for economic diversification and growth.  As part of this effort, the City recently conducted a survey for stakeholders across the City, including residents and business owners, to gauge their opinions about Norwalk’s industrial zones.

Industrial Zone Survey Results

Out of a total of 434 respondents, two major opinion groups emerged, based on their votes and statements submitted.  One group of about one-third of those who responded had generally a pro-industry stance, with strong support for additional industrial development across the City, as well as a healthy mix of both commercial and industrial uses. Their opinions were generally:
  • More supportive of industrial growth, especially for job creation
  • Support for a balance of land use
  • Sensitive to the location of industrial uses and their relationship to residential neighborhoods
A second group, representing about two-thirds of participants, had more of an anti-industry attitude. Many in this group expressed a desire to see industry be placed elsewhere in Fairfield County, and many pointed to the noise and harm  that industry causes to residential neighbors.  Their opinions included:
  • Less support for industrial growth
  • Norwalk should not bear the regional burden of industrial development
  • Industry in Norwalk is not well located and should not be near residential areas
Despite the gap in opinions on industrial zones in general, there were areas of consensus across both of the groups. Whether pro-industry or anti-industry, there was wide agreement on:
  • Industry should respect the needs of its residential neighbors
  • Traffic and infrastructure are serious issues in many of the zones
  • There should be a clear distinction between heavy and light industry
  • Waterfront is a valuable asset for the City that should be considered separately from the other industrial zones

Industrial Zone Planning - Next Steps

Based on both the survey results and the above consensus points, the industrial zone planning team will look further into several questions that arose, including:
  • While Norwalk is well positioned for a regional advantage with regard to industry, should it be the main industrial district for Fairfield County?
  • What are emerging industrial trends and how should they inform the future of industrial development in Norwalk?
  • How to balance the future of marine industrial and commercial uses with recreational uses such as boating and public access along the waterfront?
  • How can Norwalk’s planning and policy mitigate conflicts between industrial uses and abutting residential and commercial areas?
With these in mind, the committee will undergo further planning analysis to develop urban design scenarios related to the various zones.

For a full discussion, watch the Industrial Zones Oversight Committee Special Meeting, 1-12-2021

  Read more about Norwalk's Industrial Zone Planning Effort

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:
  1. Twenty-five per cent or more of the persons within the individual census tracts shall have income below the poverty level;
  2. Twenty-five per cent or more of the families within the individual census tracts shall receive public assistance or welfare income; or
  3. 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:
  1. Public hearing held at a Planning Committee Meeting
  2. Planning Committee votes of the enterprise zone extension to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee to amend the current EZ ordinance
  3. Ordinance Committee holds a public hearing and amends the Enterprise Zone ordinance to include the extended geography
  4. Common Council votes on the new ordinance language
  5. 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?

  1. South Norwalk
  2. Stamford
  3. New Haven
  4. Many other CT Municipalities (Hartford, Bridgeport, etc.)