Lawmakers are hopeful that a proposed new tax credit for businesses will help revitalize the Burtonsville area.
Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring introduced the bill on Nov. 5 to create the property tax credit for businesses in the Burtonsville Crossroads area.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Nov. 26 at 1:30 p.m.
The bill will give businesses in Burtonsville a chance to apply for tax credits if they make improvements to their properties, Ervin said.
The credit would exempt businesses from 80 percent of property taxes on improvements made to their property for five years after the improvements are made.
The legislation will hopefully help revive a once-thriving downtown area, she said.
Ultimately, the plan for Burtonsville includes a main street, public green space and a village center, all of which will require private investment, according to a memorandum on the bill that Ervin sent to her council colleagues in October.
The bill should help encourage investment throughout Burtonsville, including the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center and a strip of shops along Md. 198 and Old Columbia Pike, according to the memo.
Changing traffic patterns since U.S. 29 was moved to the east, as well as the departure of several key businesses, have hurt business activity in the area, the memo said.
Hopefully, the enterprise zone designation will encourage businesses to reinvest in the area, which has seen an economic “slow motion disaster” over the past four years, said Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Dist. 14) of Burtonsville.
The rerouting of U.S. 29 within the past decade has meant that commuters to Howard County no longer go through Burtonsville, patronizing businesses on their way to and from work, he said.
The Maryland lawmakers during the 2013 General Assembly passed legislation allowing the county to establish the enterprise zone.
Maryland’s enterprise zone program brings together state and local governments to provide tax incentives to businesses in economically troubled areas.
There are 30 enterprise zones in Maryland, including in Gaithersburg, Long Branch/Takoma Park and Wheaton, according to a policy analysis conducted for the state bill allowing the Burtonsville enterprise zone. The plan would create a real downtown area rather than just a series of strip malls, Luedtke said.
“People in this part of the county want a livable, walkable community,” he said.