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City Of Plattsburgh To Move Forward With Environmental Review Of Annexation Proposal

The city of Plattsburgh is looking to annex 224 acres of land that it owns in the adjacent town.  The effort took a step forward recently when the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation granted the city’s request to be the lead agency for the property’s environmental review.
The 224 acres on Rugar Street is in the Town of Plattsburgh but because it is adjacent to and owned by the city, Mayor Colin Read wants to annex it in order to relocate the Municipal Lighting Department, attract industry and improve access to the Saranac River.

Mayor Read recently announced that the DEC had granted the city lead agency status for an environmental impact analysis of the annexation proposal.  “We shall begin embarking on that right away. We will hope to continue to do this as a collaborative process but we’re prepared to do what’s necessary to annex that property into the city given that the city owns all that land, the land’s contiguous with the city and the city’s for a long time operated facilities, used as a storage facility. And we hope very much that we can use this as a major area for economic development and job creation that will benefit the entire region.”

Read calculates that development on the parcel could generate hundreds of jobs and hopes the SEQR process is not lengthy.  “We’ll do an environmental analysis. We’ll hold hearings. We’ll ask other affected parties for their input. That will then be returned to the council. Once we make that final determination, presuming it’s successful, then we move to the next step. We’d like to be able to sit down and collaborate with the various other municipalities that could be affected in this. But barring that there’s a relatively straightforward hearing process through the court system that we’d have to go to if that’s unsuccessful.”

Both the city and town applied to be the SEQR lead agency.

The DEC’s Dispute Determination notes that primary impacts of annexation include a loss of tax revenue to the town with a gain to the city. Utilities are provided by the town but the city claims it can extend its water and sewer to service the property. The town also claimed that if the parcel was developed, traffic would tend to impact the town rather than the city.

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman has maintained that a comprehensive review of the city’s annexation proposal is needed. He points out that the DEC decision only places the city in the lead for preparing the environmental review and the town remains curious about the city’s annexation plan.  “We have still not seen the entire proposal. We’ve heard a lot from the mayor talking about how he wants to create an industrial park and bring, you know, hundreds if not thousands of jobs to the region. But what is that impact going to be such as traffic, infrastructure, etc? We’ve not seen documents that outline an independent review. So while I don’t agree completely with their assessment I was comforted by the fact that the DEC put in writing acknowledging some of our concerns and why we sought to be the lead agent.”

The DEC designated the Plattsburgh City Council lead agency based on two of three criteria and encouraged the town council to actively participate in the environmental review.

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