PLATTSBURGH – Two resolutions passed this week by the Plattsburgh City Common Council continue Lake City’s decades-long quest to annex hundreds of acres of land in neighboring Plattsburgh.
“This property has suffered for many, many decades,” said Mayor Colin Read of the 200-acre area on Reeves Lane and Rugar Street.
“It’s not very valuable, but it could be very valuable in the future – not just for us, but also for the city of Plattsburgh, for Clinton County and for all of the people who work there.”
The city owns the land in question and has been buying plots over the years for a total of around $ 1.6 million.
Lake City officials said successful annexation would allow it to equip the land with cheap public utilities that could attract future development and bring regional benefits.
City officials don’t feel that way.
Among other concerns, the heads of state and government have spoken out against the city’s trust in “conceptual” plans and theories for the location and not in specific location plans.
As part of the annexation process, the sister congregations held a joint public hearing at the end of September, at which officials from both Plattsburghs gave their views.
The city planner Trevor Cole was one of the many speakers that night and described the entire annexation as unnecessary, unjustified and harmful.
Cole attended the city’s virtual city council meeting Thursday and questioned various aspects of the process, including whether or not the city had budgeted the cost of the site’s required infrastructure updates when it was drafting the 2021 budget.
The city later replied that it was not, saying it was because the annexation process was currently incomplete.
City officials have listed fiscal positives for the city should the annexation prove successful.
They say it would increase its land mass by 7 percent, distribute taxes even further among city residents, and keep the city from putting $ 70,000 annually in combined taxes for Clinton County, Town of Plattsburgh, and Beekmantown Central School District on their own land to pay.
The city said $ 11,000 of that went to the city each year.
However, the city has raised financial concerns including the loss of city tax revenue, traffic impact that could result in $ 870,000 worth of transportation infrastructure updates, and legal costs for the annexation.
Mayor Read said the city would benefit from the people who live and work there if the land was annexed and developed. He said sales and property taxes in the city would be far higher than what the city now pays the city in annual tax dollars.
“We have to be ready to think a little bigger as a community,” Read said on Thursday. “Put aside decades of resentment and find out how to do things together.
“We tried. Boy, we tried every step but sometimes we just cut our noses off to piss off our faces and our communities.”
“THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC”
Under the Municipal Act, the City Council and the Joint City Council had 90 days after the joint hearing to vote independently on whether or not the proposed annexation was in the best interests of the public.
If at that point the votes did not match, the state should make the decision.
The Thursday evening vote in the city declared the annexation in the best interest of the public.
Plattsburgh city council had yet to make its decision, but city administrator Michael Cashman said it would be before the 90-day deadline by the end of this month.
After hearing the town’s recent determination, Supervisor Cashman said, “We are disappointed but not surprised.”
“The city continues to review the materials,” he told the press republican on Friday. “While we haven’t had time to review the latest documents that the city has handed in, I am confident that the city has not answered or considered a number of big questions.”
Cashman, like Cole, noted the potential infrastructure updates and said they could cost the city’s taxpayers a “high price”.
“As the city positions itself to try to cut taxes,” he said, “this seems to me to be another example of the lack of a plan.”
While others focused on property taxes, Read said he was looking at job creation.
“When we talk about Nova Bus, nobody says Nova Bus is a great thing because they pay property taxes,” he said. “People say, ‘Nova Bus is a wonderful thing because it creates all of these jobs.’
“It’s all about job creation. It’s not about some kind of tax shift system from one jurisdiction to another.”
Councilor Mike Kelly spoke about a Canadian manufacturing company which, he said, had once “looked very closely” at the property in question as a possible location for greenhouses.
“If we had our cheap electricity that we have in this place today, it would have been here, I’m pretty sure,” said Kelly (D-Ward 2). “We missed a great opportunity there.
“Hopefully these opportunities will knock again.”
Christopher Rosenquest, elected mayor of the city of Plattsburgh, will take over the role of mayor on January 1st.
During his election campaign, the Democrat opposed the city’s treatment of the annexation, saying he would pause it until the municipalities could make a mutually beneficial decision.
When asked about the recent resolution of the council and its annexation plan at the beginning of the new year, Rosenquest said, “Ultimately, it only comes down to what is available when I take office.”
“It seems that the council will move forward under the current mayor and there is not much I can do at the moment,” he continued.
“Both Mike Cashman and I agree that we will focus on getting back to the table to find a sensible solution that will benefit everyone.”
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