Cities, town eye annexation deal

JOHNSTOWN – Town officials plan to invite the mayors and council members from the Glove Cities back to the table next month to renew discussions about annexing land from the town into the cities, in the wake of the town’s rejection of a proposal that led to a legal challenge.

The Town Board hopes to meet with officials from both cities at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at Town Hall to discuss the cities’ offer to allow town land to be annexed into the cities, where they can access water and sewer services, in exchange for sharing property- and sales-tax revenue. Town Board members will discuss it further at a workshop scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday.

“I certainly hope we can work something out. I think we should be able to,” said Councilman Walt Lane. “Lots of other cities, towns and counties work a lot of things out and get a lot of economic progress.”

“I’ll meet them anytime, anyplace, because it’s only good for Gloversville, it’s good for Fulton County,” Mayor Dayton King said after the town tentatively scheduled the meeting.

About six months ago, the cities presented the town with a proposal that would allow the cities to annex town land in exchange for sharing tax revenue, but discussions stalled.

In September, the Town Board voted against allowing landowner Stephen Mauro to annex his 16-acre town property into Gloversville. Mauro planned to develop the site, which is near the Walmart Supercenter under construction along the town border.

Mauro on Jan. 10 initiated legal action in state Supreme Court in Johnstown over the inability to annex the land. His file at the Fulton County clerk’s office does not yet include a complaint and the case hasn’t been assigned to a judge.

The Town Board discussed the legal action in a 15-minute executive session Monday but did not take any action.

Town Supervisor Nancy MacVean said she flatly rejects losing town land, noting the cities already have a way to make money from any town development near the city.

“They can supply water and sewer service at double the rate and make money,” she said. “They’ve been running away with all the land for years – both cities. And we are the ones that have the land, so we’re in a position of power.”

Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland, who last year worked with MacVean on a tax-sharing deal that resulted in Eagle Chevrolet building a new dealership on town property while still accessing city water and sewer, said she understands the town’s position but remains hopeful progress can be made.

“I totally respect their concern,” she said. “If we can negotiate some terms that make sense for everybody, it would allow for growth in the area.”

Councilwoman Beth Schloicka said after Monday’s meeting she’s optimistic some kind of agreement can be reached, but during the meeting, she said she was skeptical all board members would be in agreement by the end of the Feb. 4 meeting.

“Given this discussion, it makes it less likely we will know in two hours what we’re going to say,” she said. “We’ve had this discussion repeatedly. We continue to say we have to come to a consensus, then we get back here and we’re headed in different directions again.”

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