During the most recent Plattsburgh Common Council meeting, questions were raised about the willingness of the mayor to meet with town officials regarding an ongoing dispute over annexation of land.
This summer the city of Plattsburgh purchased land on Rugar Street adjacent to two other parcels it owns in order to move the Municipal Lighting Department – or MLD – to a more industrial area. The property is adjacent to the town land that Mayor Colin Read wants to annex.
Near the end of Dec. 6th’s Common Council meeting, Ward 3 Republican Dale Dowdle requested information regarding grants regarding the MLD move and then asked the mayor for an update on any meetings with Town of Plattsburgh officials to review annexation of the parcels. “On November 1st we passed a resolution: “The Common Council affirms and encourages the Mayor’s intent to meet and negotiate with representatives from the Town of Plattsburgh and any involved school district for up to 30 days.” Where are we with that?”
The city attorney interjected that there is a provision for the town to consent to the annexation request and Mayor Read added that he had asked for a meeting. “They chose not to work with us on that. Instead they recommended we take the route that you go once this step fails. So that’s what we’re pursuing at this time.”
But Dowdle was dubious. “They refused to meet with us?”
Read: “They refused to meet under the terms of resolving and discussing under the GML (General Municipal Law) provision.”
Mayor Read had sent Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman an email on November 1st noting that the Common Council had passed a resolution that he collaborate “over the next 30 days toward reaching some sort of agreement on Rugar St. … Please let me know if or how you would like to proceed.” Dowdle cited Cashman’s email response and challenged the mayor. “It reads: ‘Dear Mayor Read…the town will, in all likelihood, not agree to any annexation unless there is a broad ranging and exhaustive public hearing on all issues that would be precipitated by the annexation… If, as you propose, the annexation is good for all then, after the comprehensive review and public hearings, the Town may be supportive. I look forward to moving forward with all involved.’ That doesn’t sound like they refused to meet with us.”
Read: “I think that affirms exactly what I said a moment ago.”
Dowdle: “I don’t think it does.”
Dowdle also slammed the mayor for the amount of money the city is spending to pursue the case. “I mean I’m looking at the legal fees we’re spending monthly for all this and then I heard you about two months indicating when you were questioned about the annexation that there was discussions going on and we were close to a resolve. And here we are spending all this money on legal fees. Then I read this and I don’t see why this can’t go on with some sort of meeting or some type of resolve before we spend any money on legal fees.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Cashman says they have been waiting over three months for a formal petition from the city on the annexation. “We stated shortly after their announcement that we would take a comprehensive review of the materials. And it’s been well over 100 days since their announcement and we have yet to receive the formal petition to do that. It’s going to require public hearings that allow for all of the stakeholders all to weigh in on this. And it has to be done at a public table. Those public hearings have not been scheduled yet largely because the city of Plattsburgh has not given the Town of Plattsburgh the formal petition. It seems as though the city was very anxious in getting this moving forward and yet here we sit waiting.”
Supervisor Cashman added that because the town employs an in-house attorney there is no additional cost to taxpayers.