PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh City Common Council adopted local laws to annex two parcels of town land, a topic of contention between the two Plattsburghs for several years, following a trio of public hearings Thursday.
The laws will officially meld 220 acres of land located off of Reeves Lane and a Sharon Avenue lot, home to the city's Municipal Lighting Department, into the Lake City's limits.
"This is it," Mayor Christopher Rosenquest said moments before the council vote, noting there were only some minor in-house steps left to take, including a site survey, "but this is it."
Rosenquest referred to the annexation as, "the thing that we've been fighting with the town for years (for)," and gestured as if to wash his hands clean of the matter.
Councilors Jaime Canales (Ward 1), Elizabeth Gibbs (D-Ward 3), Jennifer Tallon (D-Ward 4), Caitlin Bopp (D-Ward 5) and Jeff Moore (D-Ward 6) all voted in favor; Councilor Mike Kelly (D-Ward 2) was absent.
The battle of boundary lines turned civil earlier this year when both the mayor and supervisor signed the Plattsburgh City-Town Compact.
Through that agreement, the pair vowed to end municipal feuds and become collaborators moving forward.
In it, the Plattsburghs agreed to end pending lawsuits, including the age-old Falcon Seaboard dispute, jointly work towards the proposed annexations, and also develop a memorandum of agreement to advance comprehensive planning and zoning opportunities.
The compact also addressed factors that had given town officials pause, like how the annexation of more than 200 acres of land would impact its taxing districts.
A five-year district protection plan to gradually slow city payments to the affected agencies, like the town's District 3 Volunteer Fire Department, was written into it. Payments to that department will start at 100% for the first three years and then ease to 50% in the fourth year, 25% in the fifth year and come to a halt in the sixth year.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO
A joint city-town public hearing kicked off Thursday's string of hearings.
Officials from both municipalities crowded into the Council Chambers of City Hall to hear community concerns regarding the annexation of yet another property, this time discussing a Clinton County-owned parcel in the City of Plattsburgh that the town hopes to make its own.
The 18-plus acres sits off Lemay Drive.
Town officials have yet to vote on this last city-town annexation and Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman believed the process would take an approximate 90 days.
The joint public hearing's sole speaker was Wallace "Wally" Day, chairman of the board of fire commissioners for the South Plattsburgh Fire District.
That fire district protects Town of Plattsburgh area south of the Saranac River, a small portion of the Town of Schuyler Falls and most of the new Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Day said.
Reading a letter addressed to both Supervisor Cashman and Mayor Rosenquest, Day explained the district's boundaries and adjustments were governed by a section of code and worried alterations could impact the district's annual bonding.
"Since we have not been consulted during the above mentioned process," Day said, "we kindly ask that you place this process on hold until we, the South Plattsburgh Fire District Board of Commissioners, have an opportunity to discuss possible ramifications with our attorney. . . "
Asked later about Day's comments, Supervisor Cashman said those concerns would likely not impact the annexation.
He said he was able to clarify the impact with the fire district.
"I am not concerned," Cashman told the Press-Republican.
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