By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News: MILO & DEXTER - This town has its share of substandard mobile homes. In fact, as many as 88 are pre-1978 with values so low the owners pay no property taxes.
But that could change. Some of those owners could move to bigger and better digs under a proposal aired Thursday before the Board of Selectmen.
Penquis, formerly Penquis CAP, has proposed creating a subdivision in the village area where it would construct several houses and sell them and the lots they are on to the owners of the older mobile homes at a low mortgage rate. The new homes would upgrade the living conditions for the residents and bring more value into the community. The older mobile homes would be destroyed.
"Youíll have an investment in your community that may not have happened otherwise," Mike Bush of Penquis told selectmen Thursday.
The construction of the modest stick built or modular homes would be funded through a grant the agency received this year for the Milo, Brownville, Alton and LaGrange region.
In a unique arrangement, students in the building trades course at Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter will construct three of the homes over the next three years, Bush said. Penquis initially had planned a 20-lot subdivision but will start with three or four homes first, he said.
Bush asked selectmen Thursday if they would be willing to apply for a Community Development Block Grant should water and sewer extensions be needed. He said a letter of intent to apply must be submitted by Dec. 7, and if funded, the local match would be paid by Penquis.
Selectmen also were asked to consider a Tax Increment Financing District for the proposed housing development, which, like the CDBG application, would require a town meeting vote.
Under a TIF, the value of the homes would be locked in for a number of years, so the homeowner isnít taxed out of the new home, according to Bush. The town still would receive property taxes on the new buildings, he said.
When suitable land is located, Bush said, Penquis would take an option but would not exercise it until the CDBG grant was obtained. He said he would return to the board before Dec. 7 with more detailed information.
"I think itís a great idea," Selectman Tony Hamlin said Thursday. "Itís a win, win, win."
Bush said his agency would work with interested owners of pre-1978 mobile homes and help them prepare loan applications. He said Rural Development has a program in which qualified homeowners would pay as little as $2.94 a month for every $1,000 they borrow.
Owners of older mobile homes in the region interested in the program should contact Penquis now to help the agency determine the market for
the proposed new homes, Bush said.
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