On Wednesday night, Jeffrey Smetana of Newman Development reviewed the project and details of the tax-abatement schedule, referring to a chart that illustrated spikes as the tax payments would increase.
Celeste Brown Thomas of Hudson Street said under the proposed abatement schedule, the Oneonta City School District is on the road to continued cuts in its teaching staff for lack of tax revenue.
“Negotiate a better deal,” she implored the IDA board.
Valerie Fuller, owner of Capresso Coffee Bar on Main Street, said she is concerned with Hillside Commons and its amenities that students will find fewer reasons to spend time and money at downtown businesses.
Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller reviewed the city’s position on the project and the proposed payment-in-lieu of taxes plan. The Common Council approved the proposed PILOT schedule by a 7-to-1 vote and sent it to the IDA for consideration.
In a separate process, the city Planning Commission recently approved the Hillside Commons project site plans after a state-mandated environmental review.
Some speakers criticized the fact that the IDA was considering a project outside traditional parameters of supporting manufacturing and commercial development that creates jobs.
Earlier this year, the IDA board members had recognized the different scope of the Newman Development project, and took two steps to address the issue — asking the city of Oneonta to negotiate the tax abatement schedule with the developer, and establishing a policy regarding housing-development projects.
On May 2, the IDA adopted a policy to address housing projects, saying that such developments wouldn’t be considered by the agency for benefits unless formerly approved by resolution by the governing body of the city, town or village where the proposed project would be located.
Carolyn Lewis, chief executive officer of the agency, said the transcript of the two-hour hearing will be distributed to the IDA board members. The board will meet at 7:30 a.m. June 27 to vote on the plan.