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Local News

February 6, 2013

Concerns arise over housing plan

Concerns about revenue sources were aired during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, with at least two members raising issues with payments-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.

First Ward council member Maureen Hennessey reported that the Newman Development Group representatives gave “a really good presentation’’ about its proposal to the Planning Commission last month.

“It was exciting,’’ Hennessy, council liaison to the commission, said during the meeting at City Hall.

Newman Development Group has expressed interest in a PILOT for its proposed 325-bed complex to be on Blodgett Drive.

Michael Lynch, council member from the Fourth Ward, in response to Hennesey’s report said he was concerned about the awarding of PILOT agreements when the city needs to develop revenue sources.

The Otsego County Industrial Development Agency, which awards PILOT plans, recently approved an agreement with the developer renovating the former Bresee’s property downtown. The schedule was presented last year to the Common Council for advice, and Tuesday, Mayor Dick Miller said he couldn’t imagine the IDA going forward with an agreement with a majority support from the Common Council.

City Manager Michael Long said information is being collected about the tax-abatement agreement that Newman Development Group has in Binghamton, where the developer has student housing projects, among other background materials.

Mayor Dick Miller suggested that PILOTs be the focus of a meeting after information is gathered. The topic goes beyond the proposal submitted by Newman Development Group, he said.

“There’s a lot of concern about a level playing field among local developers,’’ Miller said.

Common Council members, city department heads and union leaders will meet at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club from 5 to 7 tonight to discuss priorities for the city.

In discussing the Newman Development project at Tuesday’s meeting, some council members raised questions about the occupancy of the apartment building and drainage from the hillside site. City officials said such questions will be considered by the Planning Commission as plans are developed.

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