Under New York's TIF statute, two criteria must be met before a municipality can implement a TIF project. First, TIF can only be used to redevelop "blighted areas." Second, TIF can only be used when "the redevelopment of such areas cannot be accomplished by private enterprise alone."The town, county & school have stated that The Hartford would have left the area and the developer would not have developed the land if they did not broker this deal. However, if you look at page 5 & 6 of the January 23, 2006 Planning Board minutes they tend to paint a different picture. Mr. Adler states that he bought the land in 2005...what did he buy it for if not to develop. He also stated that he "will look into a future road".
To our knowledge the "deal" hasn't been signed yet so why is the steel already going up on the building for The Hartford if Larry Adler isn't going to develop the proposed Business Park without the PILOT-Tax Increment Financing? Has the vote of the town board, county legislators and the school board already been counted privately...or did Larry Adler "lock in" the votes by his donation of 17 acres to the New Hartford School? Quid pro quo?
According to information we FOILed from the Town of New Hartford Planning Department, Mr. Larry Adler approached the Planning Board and started the project application process back in 2006, right after Supervisor Reed was elected. A letter dated April 10, 2006 from Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland to Mark Silo, Regional Director of NYSDOT outlines the "need" for the business park.
We also obtained a copy of a report regarding the New Hartford Business Park that contains a summary from the December 1994 New Hartford Business Park Study; the Par Technology Park - Feasibility Study of September 1995; and the Environmental Impact Statement of August 1999. PAR actually owns some land included in the New Hartford Business Park. Interesting to note that the Par Technology Feasibility Study suggests "a satellite fire station has been included in the development to service this portion of the town."
And the August 1999 Environmental Impact Statement says:
Development within the Business Park district and subject to the FGEIS. Developers will be required to mitigate the environmental impact of significance identified in the FGEIS with the alternative mitigation by the offering of payments in lieu of mitigation to be available to such developers.
Fees in lieu of mitigation are monies paid to the town to offset the costs of any negative impacts as a result of development. Funny, when we asked if fees in lieu of mitigation fees would be paid by the developer of the New Hartford Business Park...Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland didn't seem to know at this point. According to the Full Environmental Assessment Form (we will be posting that tomorrow along with additional information obtained through FOIL regarding the Business Park and another stormwater study) that was filled out for the New Hartford Business Park, the predominant soil types are 15% well drained, 15% moderately drained and 70% poorly drained...do we see stormwater issues in the future?
In case anyone is wondering, yes, the town will be adding the roads within the Park to the town highway inventory system, in other words, the town will be maintaining the roads in the Business Park once they are dedicated according to a letter sent to Mr. Larry Adler from Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland.
Concerned Citizens also obtained a copy of the 1992 GEIS for the area to include Seneca Turnpike (NYS Rt 5) - Commercial Drive (NYS RT 5A) - Middlesettlement Road (NYS RT 5B CTY RT 30). Interestingly enough, back in 1992, the GEIS noted that the school enrollment was declining, we have an aging population and population in general was declining. It was felt that we needed to encourage development in this corridor of New Hartford; according to the GEIS:
Implications of Future Land Use Projections for the Population of New HartfordSo after the development of Consumer Square, The Orchards, expansion of Sangertown Square Mall, what do we now have...an aging population (if you remember the Observer Dispatch did a whole article on this), school enrollment is dropping (remember this article) and people are leaving (we hear this all the time...it seems it has become our mantra.
- The projected development of commercial land use will yield additional property tax revenues which will benefit New Hartford overall and older residents with more limited incomes in particular.
- Additionally, commercial development will create new jobs and housing demand. Both of the factors will work to the benefit of the community.
Perhaps there are reasons why all this development has produced no significant changes in New Hartford. Are we really bringing in new, high-paying jobs or are we merely relocating the same jobs we always had from one area to another? Who really is benefiting from all this development? The Hartford will bring no new jobs to the area...the doctor's office likely will not bring many "new" jobs...Dr. Costello already has an office in New Hartford. The hotel, if it comes to fruition, will supposedly create "new" jobs, but let's face it, the majority of those jobs will not be high-paying jobs.
It is important to support incentives aimed at creating "new" jobs, but incentives so that businesses and developers can just "relocate" to another site at taxpayer expense is not going to do one thing to change the aging population, declining school enrollment or the declining population in general. We can keep hoping, but at some point we must be realistic...
Concerned Citizens will be watching and we will post the town, county and school votes on our blog so you can how everybody voted. Strikeslip has more on this "deal" on his blog...
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