Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read stood next to vacant land on Thursday while discussing the need for the city to explore the possibility of finding town properties it can annex.
In late July Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read announced 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. The mayor is exploring the possibility of annexing those and other properties. Mayor Read obtaining taxable properties is a matter of the city’s survival. “We can’t raise taxes significantly in the city of Plattsburgh without having an exodus of people leaving. The only thing we can do is really expand our property tax base but there’s just simply not that land available in the city because boundaries were defined back in well what 1902 at 5.5 square miles. We need some room to grow.”
Read calls annexation a tool for economic development and job creation. He says the intent is to take vacant land and aggregate it to create value. “We need to figure out opportunities to be able to convert some of the vacant land in our area adjoining our city and put it back on the tax rolls for all of us to benefit. Cities are hurting and we need to now do something about it and I think we’ve got the resolve to do that. Our future can’t be dictated by artificial lines on maps. We have to look for places to develop and we expect and assume we’re going to have cooperation to do so.”
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau served five terms as mayor of Plattsburgh from 1989 to 1999. He says during that time he and his council considered annexation to promote economic development. “During the 10 years that I served we did look at Falcon Seaboard and it fit all the criteria of law for us to annex. However we made an agreement with the Town of Plattsburgh. So when it comes to this type of annexation I think it’s only natural. We’re not taking a thing from the Town of Plattsburgh. It’s next to the city of Plattsburgh, fits all the criteria of law. So I think it’s fair. It’ll promote growth in the city of Plattsburgh and growth in the Town of Plattsburgh. It’s a win-win. We all win.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman says town officials need to better understand the city plan. “What the Town of Plattsburgh is committed to doing is taking a comprehensive review of what is being proposed. It doesn’t make sense to set forth an adversarial relationship but it also doesn’t mean that we’re not going to defend the needs and best interest of the Town of Plattsburgh taxpayers. So I look forward to seeing a comprehensive proposal and taking a comprehensive review of the proposal that the city is putting forward.”
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.