Some tax breaks could be sub­ject to com­mu­nity in­put

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

The Ulster County In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Agency board is con­sid­er­ing a pol­icy to seek in­put from af­fected mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties be­fore vot­ing on tax breaks for stu­dent or se­nior cit­i­zen hous­ing projects.

The pol­icy pro­posal, dis­cussed by the board at a Wed­nes­day morn­ing meet­ing, comes of the heels of the agency board and New Paltz of­fi­cials dif­fer­ing sharply over tax in­cen­tives for the pro­posed Park Point stu­dent hous­ing com­plex near SUNY New Paltz, a project that ul­ti­mately was with­drawn.

Board Chair­man Michael Horodyski said the language in the pro­posed pol­icy, which still is sub­ject to a public hear­ing and a vote by the board, pro­vides an “op­por­tu­nity that you’re go­ing to get some con­sid­er­a­tion to off­set the cost of com­mu­nity ser­vices as op­posed to get­ting a build­ing, hous­ing 400 stu­dents and no con­sid­er­a­tion.”

The pro­posal states the In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Agency will not set terms with a de­vel­oper for a pay­ment-in-lieu-of-taxes. or PI­LOT, agree­ment un­til “af­ter seek­ing in­put from all af­fected tax­ing ju­ris­dic­tions and the com­mu­nity where the project re­sides.”

Park Point, pro­posed by west­ern New York de­vel­oper Wil­morite, was to be built on 42 acres near the SUNY New Paltz cam­pus and com­prise 228 apart­ments for stu­dents and 30 units for col­lege staff.

Town of New Paltz of­fi­cials voted to al­low the project — but only if it wasn’t granted a PI­LOT deal by the In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Agency. Af­ter the tax deal was granted, a court ruled the town had the right to block the project on those grounds.

In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Agency board mem­ber Ran­dall Lev­erette ex­pressed con­cern Wed­nes­day about se­nior cit­i­zen hous­ing and col­lege apart­ments be­ing grouped in the same pol­icy.

“To me, there’s no com­par­i­son [be­tween se­nior hous­ing and] ... putting a dor­mi­tory on a tax-ex­empt prop­erty for stu­dents who are not go­ing to be pay­ing taxes [but] us­ing ser­vices,” said Lev­erette, a New Paltz res­i­dent. “That’s the dis­con­nect for me.”

Board mem­ber Michael Bern­holz said the agency should do what it can to help SUNY New Paltz.

“We’re sup­posed to foster cre­ation and at­tract new busi­nesses,” he said. “... I look at the col­lege as a very im­por­tant busi­ness to Ulster County ... an eco­nomic en­gine. It’s one of the largest em­ploy­ers. So to me, that’s what we’re sup­posed to be do­ing, we’re sup­posed to help those em­ploy­ers and those en­ti­ties stay in busi­ness and grow.”

Lev­erette re­sponded that while SUNY New Paltz is a large em­ployer, it “takes its toll on where I live.”

He also said se­nior hous­ing is less likely to gen­er­ate po­lice calls that stu­dent hous­ing.

A date and lo­ca­tion for the public hear­ing on the pro­posed pol­icy have not yet been set.

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