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March 12, 2013

Group writes petition to stop Blodgett housing plan

(Continued)

Keith Wilber, general manager at student housing Rental Company One in Oneonta, said Save Oneonta formed about two months ago. The group includes residents, property owners and merchants, real estate brokers and others, and he said meeting attendance rose from 10 at the first session to about 90 at a more-recent gathering.

By last week, more than 80 percent of Main Street building owners downtown and more than 75 percent of Main Street had signed the petitions, which still are circulating, Wilber said.

Opponents question the need for additional student housing, among a “laundry list’’ of other issues, he said Monday.

The five points in the petition say that Main Street property owners rely heavily upon rents from students living in apartments; there is an oversupply of apartments in the city; millions of dollars earned by the complex would leave Oneonta; and an over-supply of rental units would result in more vacant houses and thus reduce property values.

Save Oneonta isn’t opposed to development in general, Wilber said, but objects to an outside housing developer coming to Oneonta and possibly receiving a tax-abatement plan.

More than 35 downtown business owners or representatives signed the petition, according to a copy mailed to The Daily Star, and more than 20 property owners signed on.

James Tomaino, owner of 222 Main St., a downtown property that has student rentals, said he signed the petition at his friends’ request but isn’t completely against the Newman Development project.

“It’s complicated,’’ Tomaino said. On the plus side that is a developer wishes to invest in Oneonta, he said, but questions remain about the impact on already-taxed city services as well as the economic impact on downtown businesses and rental property owners.

“I have concerns on how it’s going to affect the community,’’ he said. “We need to have some open forums.’’

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