Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NYM: Variance Shot Down

Per tonight's OD, NY Mills has shot down a variance that would have allowed Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies to have operated out of the old Bonide Plant. Frankly, while I was concerned about adherence to the local ordinances, I was hoping that the parties could find a way to make this work for everyone. But that was not to be.

Executive VP Michael Fitzgerald was unhappy:
“Unfortunately, it just goes to show the small-mindedness of the public officials that uphold the law,” Fitzgerald said. [emphasis supplied.]
That really is an extraordinary remark.

Mr. Fitzgerald seems to be saying that public officials who uphold the law are small minded!

If that sentiment somehow was felt by the Village Board, Mr. Fitzgerald has no one but himself to blame for the denial.

10 comments:

Greens and Beans said...

This issue is a good example of government and business failing to think out of the box. The issues are not that complex that a resolution could not be found. A win/win situation for all of the players may still be a viable option to resolve this problem.

The company, (Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies) is looking to relocate their operations to New York Mills. The residents of the abutting properties fear that the fifty feet property offset encroachment will crowd their properties, particularly if the company chooses to sell the property to another business. The Village government sees the additional tax base as beneficial to all of the village’s residents. New York Mills Mayor, Robert Maciol expressed his concern regarding jobs and tax relief “. . . we also need to be sensitive to the creation of jobs in the area. We need to be aware of the tax base.” These are all justifiable concerns that can be addressed.

I suggest the following possible solution to this problem:
• Offer the residents a substantial tax relief and add value to their properties.
• Offer Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies a limited deal.
• Offer the Village of New York Mills additional jobs and an expanded tax base.

The how is where they need to think out of the box: The Village of New York Mills offer to pass an ordinance affecting only the residential properties that abut the commercial site. This ordinance would contain a relief tax package in terms of offering the abutting residential parcels free Village tax. This offer would have to be contingent upon the abutting residential property owners approval who must accept the new fifty foot property line offset. The ordinance would affect only those abutting properties and not alter the present property line offset of any other Village properties. All lost abutting residential property taxes could be added to the new Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies property tax liability. The entire residential tax offset deal would remain with all of these properties regardless who the subsequent owners would be. The ordnance would have to be revisited by the current abutting residential property owners and the Village Government (Mayor, a possible future Village Manager and/or Board) at any time the Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies parcel is offered to be conveyed to another perspective owner.

Here we see that there is a potential win/win solution to this dilemma. Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies could get a new facility. The Village would gain additional tax revenue and jobs. The abutting residential owners would gain free Village tax and the additional property value increase as a result to the lower tax burden.

The flexibility of this deal is based upon Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies desires to extent this offer to include other tax benefits beyond the Village tax offer. The offer has the potential to include the Town, County and/or School District taxes should the abutting residential property owners feel the need for additional deal incentives. This offer would be subject to the respective government’s approval(s).

I firmly believe, to disregard this offer now without exploring alternative solutions, would present a premature death to what could be beneficial to the entire area.

Anonymous said...

greens and beans said:
"The Village government sees the additional tax base as beneficial to all of the village’s residents."

First, the owners of the property are liable for the real property taxes whether the facility is occupied or not.

Second, the "additional" tax base would only be realized if their was an expansion of the facility.

Third, Empire Zone status was recently obtained by the current owners which translates to REDUCTION of TAXES OBLIGATED TO BE PAID.

Fourth, OM has the option to expand the facility in a direction away from the residential line, without the need for a zone change or even variance.

greens and beans'statement is false-the village government has full understanding of the situation and the impact it will have on the village and thereby voted accordingly.

As for Mayor Maciol expressing his concerns for "creating jobs and tax relief", the only real "concern" Mayor Maciol has is how he can use this situation to take himself up the next step of the political ladder.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous said: "Fourth, OM has the option to expand the facility in a direction away from the residential line, without the need for a zone change or even variance."

WOW -- Then there was no reason for all this controversy at all! Too bad that part of the story did not make it into the newspaper. It would be important for people to know during the upcoming election that this was one reason why some village trustees voted against the variance.

Greens and Beans said...

Anonymous quoted my statement “the Village government sees the additional tax base as beneficial to all of the village’s residents” stands on its obvious merit. The fact of the matter is that the Village WILL have the same amount of students to teach, the same Highway, Fire and Police Departments to maintain, the same parks and library, but with an expanded tax base to aid the residents to pay for these essential services. The whole premise why Empire Zones were established is to allow time for employers to get on their feet and expand their workforce. The Empire Zone status will eventually vaporize and the company will realize its full tax levy. In return, the taxes realized by the Village government will also increase accordingly.

Anonymous fails to see the benefit to the abutting residents. My elaborate tax plan is to set up a win/win situation for all of the parties. Empire Zone status or not, how would it hurt to offer Oriskany Manufacturing Technologies the option to pick up the abutting residential village tax burden? If the fifty-foot variance is that important, the corporation may view the additional tax cost as palatable and simply apply the supplementary expense to the cost of conducting business.

Anonymous also states that “Mayor Maciol has is how he can use this situation to take himself up the next step of the political ladder.” Mr. Maciol’s responsibility as the Village Mayor is no different than any Village Mayor. One of any Mayor’s primary responsibilities is to ensure a fiduciary responsibility in terms of providing responsible government to the Village residents. Albeit this position does not politically hurt Mayor Maciol, it is not evident that Mayor Maciol based his position on this proposal to foster any future political aspirations he may/or may not have.

I only hope that the greater Utica area will be able to find another location for this business. We cannot afford to let these jobs migrate out of our region because of the shortsightedness of a few. New York Mills will eventually realize that vacant buildings do NOT generate the same tax revenue as prospering businesses do. Eventually vacant commercial parcels become an undue financial burden to all of the remaining taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

greens and beans,

actually, this vacant building did generate tax revenue. The property is assessed at 1.5 million and Bonide Products paid their property taxes. As for Oriskany Manufacturing, they just grieved the assessment--looking to reduce it to 150 thousand. So much for adding to the tax base and generating additional revenue.

The school district will take the biggest hit on this.

Anonymous said...

The property in question is in a zone designation called planned development which has no permitted use. The problem is you can not use property in a Planned Development district. Per the village zoning ordinance PD is an undeveloped parcel of land whose use is yet to be determined. It has no permitted use. Again per the code, once an owner determines what it would like to use the property for it "shall" apply to the village to obtain its zoning. But look at the history. When the zoning ordinance was put into place in 1973, Bonide had been manufacturing there for 2 years. Question 1 is how do you zone a developed property as planned development which is the same as an undeveloped parcel? The controversy regarding a zone change would allow a setback of 50 feet instead of 200 feet is bogus. The building was 75 feet from the property line when the zoning ordinance was put in place. By definition, the property did not meet the definition of PD to begin with. Is the neighborhood truly affected by an actual zone designation? No. Truth is the Krupa 5 unit apartment house is less then 10 feet from the property line. Could that be the real problem? Furthermore, no variance was applied for, only a request for a proper zone designation. Regarding the fact that company requested a reduced assessment, that is true. Once the property was denied a zone designation, essentially labeling it as having no legal permitted use, that tax grievance was made. But what value is there to the property owner that has paid $60,000 in taxes to date yet has been denied enjoyment of the property? The village can't have it both ways. If it has a zoning designation, it has a value and you can tax accordingly. If you say you can't use the property how can you then turn around and say but you still must pay taxes.

Lastly, the zoning change was voted down for two reasons and neither were valid reasons. Reason one: John Bialek dislikes Rob Maciol and convents his mayorship and opposes the mayor for his own political gain. This would be a big win for Maciol and Bialek knows it. Reason two: Susan White was "betrayed" by Rob Maciol because he fired her nephew from a village position for employee misconduct. The no vote on the zoning was meant as payback and to give Maciol a black eye from White and Bialek. The planning board approved the zone designation yet the village board denied it.

Look a the real story. The next door neighbor,also a manufacturer, received the same designation that the property should be designated, that is manufacturing. Truth is, the property in question should have never been labeled as vacant (ie PD) with a 200 foot setback for any development in the first place. It all just proves that all politics is local.

With regard to the well off getting their way, nothing could be more off base. The company's lawsuit was based on its constitutional rights being denied (ie. confiscation of property without equitable reinbursement and discrimination based on the fact that the village was zoning for an occupant and not for a use.) In the face of the lawsuit, the same village board that denied the zone change then had to determine if the basis of the suit warranted settling the case out of court or fighting it. It chose, based on legal counsel to settle the case and designate the property that which its own planning board recommended long before the suit. How can the board be right for denying the zone designation and then wrong for admitting that maybe they were wrong in the first case when pressed? How is it that public process is fair when the next door neighbor gets her way then polluted and corrupt when the same board does an about face? The neighbors have the same rights and when pressed you can be sure that the neighbors will press those same rights.

Anonymous said...

The statement that the company could expand in a different direction is not true. Nothing, absolutely nothing can be done without a zone designation. That information is a smokescreen for trustees Jarosz and Bialek and White that voted against the zone designation. It just is not true.

Anonymous said...

The statement "Empire Zone status was recently obtained by the current owners which translates to REDUCTION of TAXES OBLIGATED TO BE PAID" is not true. The same real estate tax liability will be levied and will be paid. However, if the company creates and maintains jobs, it will recieve INCOME tax credits from the state of NY not a REAL ESTATE tax credit from NY Mills. Empire Zone benefits are income tax reductions. If you don't make a profit, you don't pay income tax and you don't get a refund. If you make a profit and you don't increase employment, you don't get an income tax reduction. Why is it no one complains when they get an income tax deduction for having a child but when a business gets a tax deduction for creating economic activity that it is bad.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous - It's too bad that all this background information was not made known to the public at the time that the issues were current.

While the relationships of the parties can be interesting to some people and reveal personal motivations behind public actions (which would be unfortunate) everything comes down to how the facts play out in context with the law.

If the facts presented to the public are filtered, that will affect how rights are perceived.
Newcomers to NYM would certainly not be aware of the site's prior history, particularly the grandfathering aspects. These are important to know and may even be legally dispositive.

Strikeslip said...

Thanks for taking the time to write!