In 2010, the 14th application filed with the Town of New Paltz Planning Board was submitted by the Wilmorite Corporation. The application requested site plan and subdivision approval for a 732-bed rental complex comprising 13 buildings plus a clubhouse and sewage treatment building on a 50-acre site south of the SUNY New Paltz campus. The applicant stated they would spend $60 million to build the rental project.
The seven Planning Board members began to conduct the exhaustive environmental site plan and subdivision reviews required by New York State law. As they worked through the process, they learned that factual information provided in support of Wilmorite’s application was inaccurate. They also determined that if the applicant was successful in its attempt to pay only a portion of the taxes on the for-profit venture, New Paltz residents would basically shoulder approximately $1.2 million each year for the next 25 years in order to make up the difference between what Wilmorite was seeking to pay versus the amount they would normally pay. The seven members of the New Paltz School Board also calculated that the impact of the tax avoidance scheme, called a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), would wreak havoc on the finances of the school district, our biggest local taxing authority. The five-member Town Board, our other taxing authority, independently determined that a PILOT scheme would be deleterious to our town budget and that paying for the services required by Wilmorite’s project would result in an increased tax burden on local residents.
Last week the Planning Board issued a final amended findings statement and formally denied approval of the rental complex project on SEQRA grounds. They did so quietly and without fanfare, capping over four years of due-diligence activities. I am sure this decision was well received by the hundreds of New Paltz residents who showed up at dozens of Planning Board, School Board and Town Board meetings. I know that the 500 or so local residents who attended the public hearing on Wilmorite’s PILOT application are grateful for the decision. We are all fortunate to live in a town where residents and public officials are not fearful of speaking truth to power and are willing to stand up for the right of ‘home rule’ in land-use decisions. Thanks to the many in our community who played such an important part in this very nice outcome for New Paltz.
Another nice 12561 outcome
On Saturday, May 10, as our local mail carriers walked and drove through the town and village delivering letters and packages, they also picked up bags and boxes of non-perishable foods placed by residents next to their mailboxes, enabling all who wanted to participate to demonstrate that New Paltz cares. The efforts of the mail carriers were part of the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
New Paltz Postmaster Dan Welch told me that all the clerks and other personnel at our post office participated enthusiastically in the work required to receive and organize the over 4,000 pounds of food that 12561 postal customers so generously contributed. Two local food pantries run by St. Joseph’s Church and Family of New Paltz were chosen to help distribute this food to those in need in our area.
Over 10,000 cities and towns across our country participate in this annual one-day food drive. Our postal service employees help us all to help one another by thinking and acting locally. A wonderful 12561 outcome.