Town rejects revenue deal

MOHAWK – The town has rejected the latest attempt at an annexation and revenue sharing deal regarding a proposed regional business park.

Town Supervisor Ed Bishop said Thursday a couple of stipulations in the proposed agreement – that the town support Montgomery County’s bid to be the lead agency for an environmental review of the project, and support the annexation process – were unacceptable. Agreeing to that portion of the proposal with the city of Johnstown would essentially take away the town’s voice and vote in the annexation process, he said.

The proposed business park would involve the annexation into the city of Johnstown of approximately 263 acres of land situated in the town. The park, which would get water and sewer service from Johnstown, would be built next to the existing industrial park off of Route 30A, on the border of Fulton and Montgomery counties. Officials in both counties have said the park could help lure a large business to the area.

Fulton and Montgomery counties have already reached their own tax-revenue-sharing deal regarding the proposed business park. The city of Johnstown and town of Mohawk have been unable to reach an agreement.

At the Town Board meeting Thursday, Bishop referenced a letter he received dated Feb. 1, which seemed to indicate Montgomery County officials recently tried to help broker a revenue-sharing deal the town of Mohawk and city of Johnstown would approve.

Bishop said the latest proposal included many points the town had demanded as part of any agreement, including the provisions that it would be an 80-year deal, and that there would be no access to the new business park from Old Trail Road. The proposal also said there would be some kind of consideration given to reducing the volume of traffic created by the existing and proposed parks.

However, the proposal also required the town to withdraw its application to be lead agency in completing the State Environmental Quality Review for the project and support Montgomery County’s bid for that status.

Both Fulton and Montgomery counties have also requested lead agency status for the environmental review, with a decision settling the matter expected soon from the Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner.

“We have as much right to do this SEQR as any of the other municipalities,” Bishop said. “In fact, if you read the DEC handbook, we have more right.”

The proposal also required the town to support and not impede the annexation process, provided the other elements of the agreement were substantially complied with.

The letter was signed by signed by three Montgomery County legislators – chairman Terry Bieniek, District 9 Legislator Robert Purtell and District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush.

When contacted, Bieniek indicated that for the most part Fulton County, and specifically Mayfield Supervisor Richard Argotsinger, handled the negotiations with Johnstown.

Argotsinger said Friday morning he had not had any direct contact with Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius, but had worked with Fulton County Planning chief James Mraz to try to move the project forward.

Mraz could not be reached for comment.

Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius said Friday he was unaware of any negotiations taking place.

“Should anyone wish to offer an agreement, I will certainly take it to our Common Council for their consideration,” he said.

The Johnstown Common Council previously voted to not continue with negotiations regarding the park.

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