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Dispute Flares Between City And Town Over Possible Land Annexation

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Plattsburgh’s mayor is looking at the possibility of obtaining a plot of land in the adjacent town by annexation. But the idea is not going over well with the town supervisor.
Late last Friday, Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read issued a press release noting that the city had purchased more than 42 acres of land on Rugar Street in the town adjacent to two parcels already owned by the city.  It totals about 230 acres of land adjacent to the city’s boundary with the town.

Mayor Read says the Municipal Lighting Department, or MLD, has been seeking land to relocate from the downtown to a more industrial location.  With no land available in the city Read explains that MLD purchased the town property.  “Before we can bring up MLD power to the MLD location we actually have to have it as part of the city, part of the municipal electric contract we have. It is right adjoining 177 acres that the city’s owned for many decades. So our intention is to actually make that all one big parcel and part of the city and develop it. And if we can generate a couple of 100 acre parcels there and bring cheap power to it we believe that this may be the best maybe the only real industrial development opportunity the city’s had for generations.”

The mayor wants to explore the possibility of annexing the properties.  “If we waited that property could well not be available. And we couldn’t do the larger plan without that small plot because that’s the frontage on Rugar Street.  So somewhat of a timing issue.  Annexation does not need to be by its very nature adversarial. I actually sent a message out to the Town Supervisor saying let’s sit down and talk about this figure out a way we can collaborate on this. There is another legal route to do but I sure hope we don’t have to pursue that because this is something that’s good for everybody and maybe even better for the county than the city itself.”

But the mention of annexation appears to rub salt in a festering wound.  The city and town of Plattsburgh have filed lawsuits against each other in a dispute over a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement made in 1992 that prevented the city from annexing property now owned by Falcon Seaboard/Saranac Power.  

Town Supervisor Michael Cashman has been livid over those legal moves and is extremely critical of the mayor’s latest plan. Cashman says he’s had no direct dialogue with the mayor and claims MLD could relocate to about 100 nearby acres that the city already owns.  He believes Read is prospecting for town land.  “I’ve seen no study that talks about driving the infrastructure out to those parcels of land. So I’ll be really curious to see what the costs are going to be to the taxpayers.  I can tell you that it will be a financial hit to the taxpayers in the Town of Plattsburgh, Clinton County and Beekman Central School District because when you annex property you are removing that from the tax rolls of the community. So this is a power play. This is a hostile approach to taking something that isn’t theirs.”

The Plattsburgh Town Board is expected to discuss the issue at its meeting on Thursday.