With the village planning board set to approve a special-use permit for local businessman Tom Struzzieri at its July 12 meeting, those opposed to approval have been writing letters of objection. One of the reasons the application should be denied, they claim, is that the change in use might negatively affect property values.
That doesn’t make sense to town tax assessor Frank Orlando, who also provides his services for the village. The assessor turns that question around. “How would looking at something deteriorating affect property values?” he asked.
Making substantial improvements to a property would add value to it, he explained. It would be assessed at a higher value and therefore pay more in property taxes.
It might take a while for that to happen, however. A provision in New York State law allows a commercial propertyowner who makes substantial improvements to request a reduced assessment from the local assessor. If he gets it, he doesn’t have to pay taxes on those capital improvements for ten years.
Orlando said Struzzieri has yet to apply for that exemption. Commercial propertyowners usually don’t request the exemption until they finish making those capital improvements.
Struzzieri recently opened the marina to members of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce and other businessowners. Struzzieri and his staff were there to answer questions.
Marge Block, the town’s director of tourism and the village historian, said that event had a good turnout. Restoring and repurposing a historic building was a great thing, Block said. She predicted the project “will create a place that can be visited and enjoyed.”
“[Saugerties] is making its mark and people are making us a tourist destination,” Block said. Recently the celebrity Olsen twins have been in town riding out at HITS, Block added. “People are coming here, seeing what we have to offer and coming back. They come and spend their money, without putting any strain on our local services. This is a good thing.”
Block said boaters will now be able to come to Saugerties via the water and dock their craft here, “maybe stay in one of the local hotels or B&Bs, eat in our restaurants, and shop in our stores.” Before the improvements to Lynch’s, boaters looking for a place to dock along the Hudson River only had Kingston and Catskill. “We don’t want them to dock in Kingston or Catskill,” Block said. “We want them to dock here.”
“But,” Block added in conclusion, “it’s also important for Struzzieri to address all the concerns of local residents as well.”