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Local News

February 20, 2013

Council sets permit fee for apartment plan

The Oneonta Common Council approved a plan Tuesday night to set a $28,000 building permit fee and to establish a $20,000 escrow account pertaining to a proposed apartment complex on Blodgett Drive.

About 10 residents addressed the council with their concerns about the project, including drainage, traffic, parking and impact on the neighborhood. Some residents questioned the action before the council at Tuesday night’s meeting in City Hall.

Mayor Dick Miller clarified that Planning Commission would address residents’ concerns about environmental and neighborhood impacts, plus other other issues, along with engineering concerns as a part of reviewing plans for the project.

Newman Development Group proposes building a student apartment complex on Blodgett Drive with about 325 beds, plus amenities.

The motion under scrutiny Tuesday authorizes the mayor to sign an agreement with Newman Development Group to set the building permit fee at $28,000 and to establish an escrow account of $20,000 to be used by the Planning Commission to retain legal and engineering services to review the project independently.

Some Common Council members, including Larry Malone of the Second Ward, said they weren’t clear about the project review process and the origin of the fee and escrow amounts.

Malone moved that the permit and escrow measure be tabled. Council members Maureen Hennessy of the First Ward and Madolyn Palmer of the Fifth Ward joined Malone in seeking to table the motion, but they were defeated in a 4-3 vote.

The motion then passed in a 5-2 vote, with Malone and Palmer dissenting. Michael Lynch, council member of the Fourth Ward, was absent.

Miller said $28,000 for a building permit in the city is “a lot of money.” The city hasn’t issued a building permit for more than $3,400 during the past decade, he said. The permit fee and the escrow fee were negotiated with the developer, with data from other cities considered, he said.

City attorney David Merzig said the Newman Development Group is proposing a project that is a permitted use. The developer isn’t required to provide any money for an escrow account, he said, and a more general amount would be $10,000.

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