Though it’s been months since there has been any news on the project, opposition to the 40-unit Dickinson’s Keep affordable housing development proposed for Route 32 in Glasco has remained active. A group which calls itself the Saugerties Assertive Citizens for Responsible Economic Development met last week at Gallagher’s on Route 212 to plan a townwide petition drive against the project.
The developer is Larry Regan. The project would be partially subsidized through Section 581a of the state real estate law, an incentive program to aid developers of housing for the working poor.
Group organizer Gaetana Ciarlante said she believes the planning board is likely to approve the project in the near future. In preparation for that possibility, the meeting agreed to begin circulating petitions. Attendance at the meeting was good, she said.
“There were a lot of new people there,” Ciarlante said, estimating that about 30 had attended. “They were from all over Saugerties, not just Glasco.”
If the planning board approves the project, Regan still faces the funding issue. He has applied for a state grant, which to this date has not been approved. The town board recently rescinded a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement because of project delays. The agreement would have reduced the project’s property tax to $26,000 in the first year, with a 3 percent per year increase over the next 30 years, at which time it would have been paying the full tax. Instead the developer will likely make use of state tax breaks through a different program, which would result in equal or greater savings. Still, the town board’s move to rescind the agreement marked a departure from its stance in 2011, when it explicitly supported the project.
Opponents say the project will end up costing the town money by using services and not paying its fair share of taxes. They have warned of increased school taxes because of students living in the development and alleged that such projects breed crime.
Proponents, including former supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, have said the town needs housing that working people, many employed in low-paying service industries, can afford. Past distinctions and biases against renters are no longer applicable in such a poor economy in which fewer people can buy homes, they say.