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Local News

May 8, 2013

Blodgett tax deal gets city's OK

(Continued)

After Tuesday night’s meeting, Jeffrey Smetana, a vice president with Newman Development, said the firm was happy that the PILOT it was approved. Newman Development is working with the city to resolve some issues, he said, and reviews by the Planning Commission remain hurdles ahead.

”We hope to start building this summer,’’ Smetana said. The proposal calls for occupancy in the fall of 2014.

In a separate but tandem process, the city Planning Commission is conducting a mandated State Environmental Quality Review and a site plan review for the project. The city planners’ next meeting is May 15.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, each council shared views about the proposed project and the PILOT agreement.

Lynch said Newman Development hadn’t shown a need for a PILOT other than as a path to maximize profits as soon as possible. Also, voting on a PILOT without means of enforcement was premature, he said.

Merzig said the IDA has many enforcement mechanisms, and Miller said the council needed to act on a proposal so that the IDA has basis to implement a plan.

Larry Malone, Second Ward council member, said he objected in general to instances of PILOT agreements being used by states to lure large corporations. However, in the case of Newman Development, Malone said, the PILOT plan is a defensive tool to protect the city and its residents, for instance, from “less-ideal scenarios” such as the development or holding of the Blodgett site by an exempt property owner.

”In recent years, the SUNY Oneonta Foundation has purchased private properties in the city and then sold them … to New York state,’’ Malone wrote in a statement on the Hillside Commons tax abatement plan. “These purchases have extended the boundaries of the campus, reduced city tax revenues and increased pressure on the city budget.’’

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