Newtown OKs tax breaks for RV dealer, citing ‘strong support’ for showroom and service center plans



NEWTOWN – A Vermont-based RV dealer that has impressed leaders with its business plan to convert a former warehouse site into a $7 million showroom and service center has been granted a tax break package as an incentive.

“Overall this project has had strong support,” said Judit DeStephano, a member of the Legislative Council – the last of four boards to sign off on the seven-year tax abatement for Country Camper. “This would be a great addition to town if they decide to come.”

The approval of tax breaks for Country Camper clears the way for the RV dealer to apply to Newtown’s Planning and Zoning Commission for permission to construct a 31,000-square-foot facility at 201 S. Main St. – the 23-acre site of the former Georgia-Pacific distribution center.

A representative of the family-owned company said Thursday that the family was pleased with the tax breaks and would focus on the land use approval process in Newtown.

“We greatly appreciate the experience with the town of Newtown’s (boards) as well as the people within Newtown,” said Logan Gregoire, who has attended Zoom calls about the tax breaks with his father, Layne. “The response has seemed to be overwhelming support, and we are appreciative of that.”

Should Country Camper earn land use approvals, it would get a seven-year break on the higher taxes it would have to pay after improving the site. Newtown, in turn, would trade an abandoned former warehouse lot that collects $43,000 annually for a new recreational vehicle business that pays $106,000 annually for the first seven years, and $173,000 in annual taxes after that.

At least 15 jobs would be created, the company said.

“This has been really well vetted,” DeStefano said on Thursday, referring to previous reviews and approvals by Newtown’s Economic Development Commission, its Board of Selectmen and its Board of Finance. “They also have a strong sense of community commitment, and doing right by the community.”

Country Camper, which has two locations in Vermont and a third in New Hampshire, hopes to expand its market with a Newtown location that would attract buyers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

The company is not concerned about expanding during an economic crisis, the Gregoires told town leaders in March.

On the contrary, the company has found that coronavirus lockdowns have made recreational vehicles a popular option, the family said.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342