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Local News

June 20, 2013

Landlords rip Blodgett tax deal

Several landlords, citing years spent investing in city properties, told the Otsego County IDA on Wednesday night of objections to tax breaks for the developer of a proposed student apartment complex in Oneonta.

More than 45 people attended a public hearing on a proposed tax abatement plan for Newman Development Group, and most speakers opposed factors pertaining to the proposed Hillside Commons and projected tax breaks.

The Otsego County Industrial Development Agency, which held the meeting at Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center, will vote on the abatement plan at a meeting later this month. Under state law, the IDA must have a public hearing about projects of more than $100,000.

Newman Development Group of Vestal has proposed a $23-million project to build Hillside Commons, a four-story, 330-bed apartment complex on Blodgett Drive.

Under the proposed 15-year tax abatement schedule, Newman Development in the first year would pay $92,316 in taxes and in year 15 would pay $418,909 in taxes. Of the payments, 32 percent would go to the city, 11 percent to the county and 57 percent to the school district. In the 16th year, taxes would be $575,301.

Opponents said the project will deflate property values, cost landlords opportunities to rent to students and cause layoffs of employees, among other consequences.

Landlord Nathan Batalion, a local resident for 13 years, said he has reinvested rental revenues into his properties. He and other landlords criticized the city for not conducting an economic impact study as part of considering the project.

“I am furious at what the city is doing,” Batalion, of East Street, said. “This is the biggest boondoggle ever proposed in Oneonta.”

The site of the private-venture project is near the State University College at Oneonta. The SUNY Oneonta administration publicly has remained neutral about Hillside Commons and needs for student housing. Last year, the college postponed a project to build townhouses on campus.

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