DERRY — The Town Council will give the public a chance to weigh in on what the town should do with its Land Use Change Tax money.
A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 2 during the regular Town Council meeting.
Right now, 100 percent of Derry’s Land Use Change Tax money goes into a Conservation Commission account.
Council Chairman Mark Osborne placed the topic on recent meeting agendas and said it’s time for a discussion on any potential changes to the tax format and how that money is handled.
Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau said the practice of placing this land use change money into the Conservation Commission’s hands began in 1997 when the council at that time approved the measure.
The money went to the Conservation Commission to buy land or easements to keep valuable property out of developers’ hands.
Budreau said when properties are in current use they are not taxed at the same rate as a property being developed.
“When a farmer decides to sell property for development, that assessment increases dramatically,” he said.
When land is taken out of current use and ready to be developed, the landowner must pay back the town for any tax relief received during the current use status.
That money becomes the Land Use Change Tax, Budreau said.
At a Town Council meeting June 3, Osborne said residents brought up the land use issue. The issue came up again at the meeting June 17.
One side may think it’s a good idea to give all the money to the Conservation Commission, he said.
Others may think the money should go back to the taxpayers.
“It’s time to put this to bed,” Osborne said, “or at least reduce the percentage going to conservation and give some of that money back to the taxpayers, back to our town budget.”
Town Councilor Tom Cardon supports how the money is handled now.
“I’m pretty firm, I like this idea very much,” he said.
Some say East Derry gets priority over West Derry when it comes to protecting conservation land.
Town Councilor Michael Fairbanks read a letter from his wife, Janet, stating she felt the town needed to give more attention to West Derry.
“If they are going to use taxpayers’ money to preserve open space, make it fair,” Janet Fairbanks said in her letter. “Clearly, West Derry is not part of the Derry Conservation Commission vision.”
Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon said he hoped there would be no more “east” or “west” when it came to talking about the town.
“I want to move Derry forward and get beyond that,” he said. “I want people to view us as just Derry, get rid of the east and west.”