April 4, 2013

Meeting Minutes




Chair Sharon Oberriter called to order the meeting of the COIDA to order at 7:30 a.m. at the OCED offices 242 Main Street, Oneonta, NY.  Voting members present included Joseph Bernier, Sharon Oberriter, James Jordan, Len Marsh, Bob Hanft, Betty Anne Schwerd and Jeffery Lord.  Absent: Jim Salisbury and Hugh Henderson.  Also in attendance: A. Joseph Scott, Carolyn Lewis and Zondra Hart. 

Special guests: Irene Weinberg, Kathy Ridgway, Barbara Ann Heegan, Michael Mac Inerney, Leon Brown, Michael Long, Dick Miller, R. Keith Wilber, Dorothy Carrington, Patrick A. Burdick, Kathy Greenblatt, Michael Spagnola, Judy Carrington and Jeffrey Smetana.


Ms. Oberriter welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming.  She acknowledged special guests in attendance regarding the proposed Blodgett Drive housing development project.  Ms. Oberriter apprised the guests that the application is just coming before the board at this meeting.  Ms. Oberriter asked the developer Mr. Jeff Smetana of Newman Development to give a brief overview of the project for the board members. 


Letters to the board received and on file from: Roberta & Norman Anderson, Rachel Larsen, Michael Hanbridge, Victoria Andritz, Irene Weinberg, Rick Weinberg, Robert Rightmire and Michael Schinn.


Mr. Jeff Smetana of Newman Development, a SUCO ’78 graduate, gave a presentation of the proposed Hillside Commons Oneonta Blodgett Drive Housing Project.  Mr. Mark Newman and Mr. David Newman run a development company. The Newman’s are partners involved in the local community of Binghamton with a similar townhouse type student housing project on a site north of the Binghamton campus.  Other SUNY campuses have this type of housing.  The proposed project will be a four story building that meets the needs of college students.  A portion of the property is projected to be established as forever wild.  A shuttle bus will be available for tenants to and from local businesses in the downtown area.  The project will create six full time employees.  Candidates will be from the local area with the exception of the manager that will most likely come from outside due to specific skill sets.  The project will include 330 beds in 117 units with a total project construction cost of $15 million.  Mr. Smetana stated the soft costs will take the total to $20M.  Mr. Hanft inquired about the rates.  The rents will be $740. per month per person for a commitment of twelve months.  Mr. Jordan asked if the building has a sprinkler system – answer yes.  The building is wood frame with stucco like siding.  Ms. Oberriter asked if it will be 100% occupied.  Mr. Smetana stated the Binghamton units are 93% preleased for next year.  Mr. Bernier asked for the estimated assessment value at full assessment.  Mr. Smetana stated they will defer to the assessor for the amount and are proposing an economic value as is used in Binghamton.  Mr. Hanft asked if ongoing building maintenance ie: annual repainting would be local labor.  Mr. Smetana answered yes, and that many of the vendors they work with are based here in Oneonta.  Mr. Jordan asked if there will be parking.  Mr. Smetana answered yes with a .7 ratio for students; an estimated 260 parking spaces.  There will be a security gate with a card for the gate and a key fob for the building, apartment and bedroom.  Mr. Hanft asked if security also included tenant behavior.  Mr. Smetana stated that a program has been developed, staff is trained, which includes a written comprehensive student handbook, security cameras are installed, and some incidents result in fines or tenants kicked out of the facility.

Ms. Oberriter then addressed the guests and stated that everyone who wanted to speak would be given the opportunity.  She asked that all comments be kept to the topic of an application for a payment in lieu of taxes, as that is the only portion of the project that the COIDA board will be addressing.

Mayor Miller stated the PILOT negotiations will take place between the City of Oneonta and the developer.  The City may or may not make a recommendation to the COIDA to offer the developer a PILOT.  The Mayor then outlined the timeline of committee and council meetings that will address the project application and he encouraged the public to attend.  The Mayor also briefly discussed a potential City of Oneonta housing policy.  Mr. Bernier asked for clarification of when all zoning codes changed in a zoning revision – answer spring 2011.  This property is zone R# - multiunit residential.

Mr. Keith Wilber stated he is concerned the math does not work.  The school has not acknowledged a need for more housing.  Mr. Wilber’s company works with thirty colleges across the state and believes this demand is a fallacy.  Mr. Wilber asked what other community are we competing against.  He stated that their own company will lose jobs.  Mr. Wilber stated the school can control whether students live on campus.  Mr. Wilber estimates the company, Rental Company One, will lose half of the 22 employees due to this project.  He also added that this development will generate $160k per month in rents and is money that will leave Oneonta.

Ms. Irene Weinberg stated this project should not be given a tax abatement as it will set a precedent, and referenced the Silver Creek project.  Ms. Weinberg said the Bresee’s Building redevelopment project brings fifty people to living downtown.  The Newman project will take people away from downtown and will also have its own coffee shop and tanning salon.  The PILOT would allow the Newman project to compete with other landlords unfairly.

Ms. Kathy Greenblatt stated she served on the county housing task force and hopes the COIDA will reference the survey.  The completed survey does not state student housing is a need.  Ms. Greenblatt stated the St. James Manor housing project met a woeful housing need.  She also stated concern for the increased traffic, and estimated 160 cars every day through the one and only exit.  Ms. Greenblatt asked the board to be reasonable in their decision.

Ms. Kathy Ridgway read a letter written by a neighbor Lee Sperling unable to attend the COIDA meeting and a petition signed by neighbors.  Ms. Ridgeway stated the draft environmental assessment review stated the number of jobs to be created is unknown and the final draft stated there would be ten jobs upon completion.  Ms. Ridgway stated the project will create an increase in City services. 

Mr. Patrick Burdick stated a concern for sewage containment at the project site.

Ms. Oberriter thanked everyone for their comments.  The letters received from the public are documented and will be part of the public hearing file.  The application from Hillside Commons Oneonta, LLC requesting financial assistance has been received.  Mr. Marsh made a motion for staff to send a letter to the City of Oneonta consenting that the City be lead agency in the SEQR process.  Mr. Hanft seconded.  Vote all ayes.  Motion carries.


Mr. Mike Spagnolli of Comp USA briefly discussed the county wide broadband project.  The $565k grant to the COIDA will be utilized to purchase equipment and deliver access to an estimated 600 houses.  We do not have the contract from the state yet.  Mr. Spagnolli hopes to complete the project in two years or sooner.  Mr. Hanft and Mr. Marsh stated this is very positive project for the county residents, businesses and for the COIDA to be a partner.


Mr. Bernier made a motion to approve the annual meeting minutes as amended.  Mr. Lord seconded.  Vote all ayes.  Motion carries.


Mr. Lord gave the Treasurer’s Report.  He stated we still need to make the adjustments on the reserves.  The PILOT payments were made.  The CD that is maturing secures the line of credit.  Mr. Marsh made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report.  Mr. Bernier seconded.  Vote all ayes.  Motion carries.

Mr. Hanft stated a conflict of interest when making the next suggestion, as he is on the board of the Bank of Cooperstown.  Mr. Hanft suggested supporting locally owned banks with deposits.  Mr. Marsh stated inquiries are put out to bid.  Ms. Oberriter suggesting making a resolution to include the economic development factor.  Mr. Lord agreed the each CD should be put out to bid.  Mr. Bernier stated we should look to diversify investment within the county.  Members decided to send the suggestion to the Finance Committee for review and recommendation.


Mr. Marsh asked for clarification of the negative amounts listed.  These represent the checks that were voided and rewritten.  Mr. Marsh made a motion to pay the December and January bills.  Mr. Bernier seconded.  Vote: 7 ayes; 0 no; 2 absent.  Motion carries.

Mr. Marsh made a motion to pay the February to April bills.  Ms. Schwerd seconded.  Vote: 7 ayes; 0 no; 2 absent.  Motion carries.


The Executive Committee met on March 14th to interview the firms Barton & Loguidice, P.C. and CHA for the Pony Farm Industrial Park marketing plan contract.  Ms. Oberriter reported the committee unanimously recommends hiring CHA.  The proposal is more expensive and includes marketing and development plans.  The Barton & Loguidice proposal includes the marketing plan costs with other costs to be added on later.  Mr. Marsh made a motion to accept the recommendation of the executive committee to contract with CHA for the marketing and development plan as proposed for $67,494.  Mr. Bernier seconded.  Vote: 7 ayes; 0 no; 2 absent.  Motion carries.


Ms. Hart reported the rail side project is moving forward.  Area businesses are exploring use of the rail to reduce transportation costs.  Once businesses have completed due diligence, conversations with CP Rail will continue regarding the construction of a new eastbound rail side.  The construction is anticipated to be complete by year end.


Ms. Lewis briefed the members on the grant application process for the CDBG $8M funding for the Mohawk Valley Region.  Companies that have submitted pre-applications are Brooks Bottling, Ioxus and Custom Electronics.  The process should be completed by June.

The Fox Hollow Nursery contract to maintain brush in Pony Farm is up for renewal.  Mr. Marsh made a motion to approve the Fox Hollow Nursery contract to brush hog COIDA owned parcels in Pony Farm Industrial Park.  Mr. Bernier seconded.  Vote: 7 ayes; 0 no; 2 absent.  Motion carries.

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a job fair and is requesting sponsorships.  Mr. Marsh made a motion to approve up to $150. sponsorship for the OCCC job fair as is consistent with the COIDA’s mission of job creation.  Mr. Hanft seconded.  Vote: 7 ayes; 0 no; 2 absent.  Motion carries.

Hartwick College is hosting a community leadership forum, members are invited.

The NYSEDC annual meeting will be held in Saratoga this year and will include site tours of AMD and other sites.  The dates are May 23 & 24.

Mr. Scott reviewed the Governor’s budget as it relates to IDA’s and provided a handout with key provisions summarized for members review.

Mr. Marsh made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:15 a.m.  Mr. Bernier seconded.