Despite the Town of New Paltz Planning Board voting against providing land use to the student-housing project Park Point, should a 25-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement be approved on Monday, April 7, the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) approved the PILOT on Wednesday, April 9.
The approved PILOT was given to Wilmorite, a Rochester, N.Y.-based commercial real estate development and management company, who will pay a total of $522,000 to Ulster County, the Town of New Paltz and the New Paltz school district during the first year the complex is up and running. Included in the $522,000, Wilmorite will pay $750 for each of the 696 beds in the proposed Park Point complex.
IDA Board Chairman Michael Horodyski said the uniform tax exemption policy was put in place to take the politics out through an independent body.
New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet said as of now the project won’t happen because the planning board is a lead agency and voted against it. She said she’s unsure what the next step is, but “finds it hard to believe” that there won’t be legal action.
“I think if that should happen [legal action], I think that’s going to be a tough situation for the college and the foundation to basically have a developer building the project for the foundation on behalf of the college suing the host community,” Zimet said. “I just don’t see where this is going.”
Town Councilman Jeff Logan said it was “disturbing” that the IDA made a decision based on over 100 pages of documents, with no full review of the documents prior to the meeting.
“The board members were obviously sitting there stumbling through the documents,” Logan said. “Their own attorney [Joseph Scott] was having difficulty finding references in the documents, and yet they were able to make a decision that’s going to cost Ulster County and the Town of New Paltz and the tax jurisdictions in Ulster County, without producing any jobs.”
IDA Treasurer Steve Perfit said SUNY New Paltz is the “jewel and crown” of Ulster County and it deserves “world-class housing.” He also said without the college, there would be no commercial industry in New Paltz.
Town Councilman Daniel Torres said Perfit’s comments showed a “lack of understanding” for the project and people of New Paltz.
“His notion to that it was a county issue opposed to just a local issue is correct, but I will point out that 500 New Paltz residents showed up at a public hearing and told him the exact opposite of what he said,” Torres said. “He came with a prepared statement without reading the document and registered a very important vote.”
Logan said Perfit’s remarks about New Paltz were “derogatory and insulting” to the town because his comments were based on supporting the project, and he has not spoken to members of the community about their views on the issue.
Right now, Zimet said Wilmorite “wants to have a shovel in the ground in May,” but if there’s a lawsuit it will take two years. She also said construction won’t be able to start in May, regardless of the status of a PILOT because the water and sewer process for Park Point would still need to be decided on.
“I’m really not sure what the next step is other than [Wilmorite] trying to put incredible pressure on our planning board, but I don’t see our planning board folding,” Zimet said.