Councilmen Fred Costello and Jimmy Bruno were concerned after learning that the project would be required to house government-subsidized tenants through the federal Section 8 program if the building had vacant apartments. Many neighbors have expressed concerns that such a development would lower the value of their homes and lead to increased school taxes. The vote was ultimately 3-2 to affirm the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement, which would reduce the project’s property taxes.
A public hearing on the project held by the planning board was closed several weeks ago, but it has not yet been approved.
Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel was in the majority. He said after visiting other projects by the developer, Larry Regan, he was confident the apartments would be built and managed well.
Regan has assured him and other town officials that he will screen his tenants carefully and that he will maintain the housing, not like some developers who make their money on construction and then sell the project to another firm to manage. He also spoke to concerns over subsidized tenants.
“It is not fair to characterize all Section 8 tenants as the same,” Helsmoortel said. “Landlords can vet their prospective tenants, and can select tenants who will be good neighbors.”
Costello and Bruno asserted that Regan had misled the town by implying that he would only rent to working families within certain income guidelines, but at the Planning Board’s hearing the week before, he acknowledged that if he had vacant apartments he could be required to accept Section 8 tenants. Regan has insisted that his marketing techniques could guarantee that his apartments would, in fact, be fully rented and thus not open to Section 8 tenants.
Town would do better with a PILOT
Under the PILOT agreement, the town and school district would receive $650 per unit in lieu of taxes in the first year. This would increase in steps until the project is taxed at the full assessed value of the property.