State picks Mohawk for annexation study


The Leader-Herald

FONDA – The state has chosen the town of Mohawk to be the lead agency for an environmental review of the proposed annexation of land by the city of Johnstown from Mohawk for the potential construction of a business park, Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said Monday.

Ossenfort, speaking at a meeting of the village Board of Trustees, said the state Department of Environmental Conservation made the decision on the State Environmental Quality Review.

The annexation would allow for the construction of the business park, which would receive water and sewer services from Johnstown.

In February, Mohawk added its name to the list of local government entities

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seeking lead agency status to perform the review. The other localities seeking the status were Montgomery County, Fulton County and the city of Johnstown.

Mohawk Supervisor Ed Bishop today said he had not yet received formal notice of the decision but is happy with the news.

“We believe that was the proper choice to begin with, and we will see that [the review is] done and it’s done properly,” Bishop said.

The SEQR is a required step in the annexation process. Before either Mohawk or Johnstown’s government can vote to approve or disapprove the annexation, the SEQR must be completed. The owners of the land, about 260 acres near the Johnstown Industrial Park, want their property to be annexed into Johnstown to allow water and sewer connections that would serve the possible regional business park on the site.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz previously said he doesn’t see why it should matter which government is named the lead agency.

“There certainly [is] some degree of leeway and subjectivity in assessing the potential impacts … but in the end, the SEQR regulations give some fairly specific guidelines on what needs to be looked at and how it should be done, and all of that has to be done regardless of who does it,” he said in March.

The stated purpose for the land annexation is the building of a regional business park that could be marketed by Fulton County and Montgomery County as a large single-business site. Economic officials in both counties have argued the park could be used to attract a business that could create many jobs.

Bishop previously said if Mohawk is the lead agency for the SEQR, it would include the potential environmental impact of the proposed regional business park on Mohawk.

In March, Bishop said his town wants to control the SEQR process because his town’s residents fear if Fulton County controls the SEQR, it would not consider the environmental effects of the proposed park on Mohawk residents and properties.

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