The Plattsburgh Common Council recently approved a measure authorizing the mayor to formally petition the adjacent town annex over 200 acres of land. The plan has been pending for two years.
In July 2018 the city of Plattsburgh bought 42 acres of land on Rugar Street in the Town of Plattsburgh adjacent to land owned by the city. The goal: to annex about 230 acres of town land adjacent to the city boundary. When Mayor Colin Read announced the plan in August 2018 he called the move a tool for economic development and job creation. “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.”
Little has occurred since regarding annexation of the property. But during the Common Council’s meeting last week a resolution was passed to serve a petition on the town for annexation and to have the city’s lawyer and planner to coordinate with the town to schedule public hearings. Before the vote Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly asked for clarification from City Attorney Dean Schneller. “Procedurally what does this mean?”
Schneller: “This petition is the written request, the written demand, that we annex the parcel. The statute requires either a joint or separate publication scheduling a public hearing and then a joint meeting between the two governing bodies to take testimony regarding the merits or objections to the annexation itself. Then after that either jurisdiction will go back to their respective corners and either agree or consent to the annexation or not consent to the annexation which would trigger further legal processes.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman noted that the city has never sent any documents to the town regarding its intent to annex the land in the past and if papers are ever received they will review them. “There are a number of questions that the city has a responsibility to answer for and we have outlined our objections and our concerns with this process. And until we get the formal petition from the city of Plattsburgh I can’t gather to understand the full depth of what the city feels is the benefit to the town, the city or the region as a whole.”
Cashman noted that the town has registered formal objections to the annexation plan. “And that was the SEQRA. There are going to be a number of impacts to the residents of Plattsburgh and the potential to the city of Plattsburgh that I don’t think the city have done their due diligence on and that will come to bear through the public hearings.”
The town disputed the city’s petition to be designated the SEQRA, or State Environmental Quality Review Act, Lead Agency for environmental review of the project. In May 2019 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the town’s arguments and designated the Common Council as lead agency.