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March 12, 2013

Group writes petition to stop Blodgett housing plan

(Continued)

Tomaino said he has issues with the prospect of Newman Development applying for a tax abatement plan from the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency. The city needs not only to support development but also to protect property owners, who need a level playing field, he said.

Jeffrey Smetana, vice president of student housing Development at Newman Development, said opposition isn’t uncommon when projects are proposed whether plans are for apartments, pharmacies or big-box retailers.

The Oneonta project would have 320 to 325 bedrooms, mostly in a three bed-room configuration, Smetana said previously. Each apartment would have a kitchen, living room, washer and dryer, and each bedroom would have a bathroom, and plans propose opening for the 2014 academic year.

Newman Development, a private company in Vestal, has worked to match its Oneonta project with local housing needs, Smetana said Monday. The proposed complex reflects “the new standard’’ in college housing and would enhance SUNY Oneonta’s attractiveness to prospective students.

The proposed apartment complex is replacing a townhouse project proposed by SUNY Oneonta, Smetana said, and city, college and individuals in the private sector have offered encouraging feedback about the Blodgett Drive proposal.

“We’re hopeful to get information out so that people understand the project,’’ said Smetana, who expressed confidence the proposal will be supported.

Wilber said Save Oneonta members are concerned about an estimated $3 million in rental income that Newman Development would generate, which would then leave the community. Save Oneonta members plan to attend city meetings about the project and post information on the group’s website at saveoneonta.com, Wilber said.

In the meantime, opponents will continue gathering information and challenging premises of the proposal, he said, and will post signs discouraging the project.

“We will create our demise if we allow this to happened,’’ Wilber said.

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