A group of Plattsburgh residents has filed a lawsuit to stop center city re-development plans.
The Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition is opposed to current redevelopment plans for the nearly two-and-a-half acre Durkee Street parking lot downtown. Among their concerns is that the proposed plan for a multistory residential building is not in keeping with the original concept for the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative awarded in 2016. They say it will create a gated community with limited access to residents, does not match the center city’s historical streetscape, unfairly defers taxes for the developer through a Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, agreement, and sells the property to the developer for one dollar.
Coalition member and business owner John Seiden announced that a formal lawsuit has been filed against the city to stop the project as currently planned. “Today we are here to announce that the Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition has filed a petition with the New York state Supreme Court to terminate what we believe is the unlawful giveaway of our public waterfront land to a private corporate developer Prime of Plattsburgh LLC which saddens us to have to take this drastic step.”
Attorney Frank Zappala says the parking lot is waterfront property and the city is violating state law by transferring ownership. “The law in the state of New York says that a city cannot transfer, lease or sell waterfront property. The city of Plattsburgh is in violation of the law. It is waterfront property and this development cannot go forward. In light of the fact that this litigation has been filed we are calling upon the city planning board and the city zoning board of appeals to adjourn all future proceedings pending the outcome of this litigation.”
Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read says the city doesn’t see any merit in what he feels is obstructive litigation. “Of course we’re disappointed that the Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition and the other plaintiffs would use the court system in this manner in an attempt to frustrate the state sponsored DRI. The city has retained the access to the waterfront all along the Saranac River Trail right through the Durkee Street lot. And that is the basis for their lawsuit claiming that the city hasn’t maintained that interest. But we do have that interest and it’s going to maintain in the public trust. And that is signed and is part of the development agreement and we’ll be able to use that waterfront in much better ways than we are now. As you know you can’t get to the waterfront currently. So we actually believe that we’re going to have enhanced waterfront facility down there instead of simply a parking lot.”
In early March the county planning board determined the Durkee Street development project would have a negative county-wide impact. It rejected the plan and sent it back to the city planning and zoning boards for further review.