Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The City's Business

Last night at the Common Council meeting, eighteen resolutions were passed unanimously, one was tabled until the Council had more information, a local law was enacted, and another was placed on the aldermen's desks.

Among the resolutions passed, the following are of interest.
  • The Council voted to sell the vacant lot at 67 Fairview Avenue for $35,000 to the owner of the business next door, Stella's Pizzeria. In 2013, the City paid $26,000 to demolish the house that stood in the site (shown in the photograph below), an amount that was then charged to the absentee owner of the house in property taxes. In 2017, the property, then a vacant lot, was seized for nonpayment of property taxes, and in November 2017 it was offered for sale at auction with the minimum bid being the amount then owed in back taxes: $52,215.15. There were no bidders for the property.
Photo: Scott Baldinger

  • The Council voted to support the route of the Empire State Trail through Hudson. Before casting his vote, Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) asked for confirmation that no parking would be lost on the two blocks of Allen Street included in the route.

  • The Council voted to support the efforts of Friends of Oakdale Lake and a design project to be undertaken by the Hudson Valley Initiative at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning.

  • The Council adopted the Strategic Housing Action Plan. Before the vote was taken, Alderman Rob Bujan (First Ward) wanted to know why the resolution hadn't gone to the Housing and Transportation Committee before coming to the full Council for a vote. Council president Tom DePietro gave two reasons: (1) the chair of the Housing and Transportation Committee, Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), was a member of the Housing Task Force that created the document; (2) the goal was to "get it in place before this round of CFA grants." There has not yet been word that the City or any of its agencies will be applying for grant funding for any housing related projects in the CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) process. What DePietro didn't mention was that the Housing and Transportation Committee hasn't met for a couple of months, its meetings for June and July both being canceled. 
  • The Council approved the new fifteen-year, nonexclusive franchise agreement with Mid-Hudson Cable. DePietro stressed that the franchise agreement relates only to cable TV service.
  • The Council approved a land swap with HCDPA (Housing Community Development and Planning Agency). The City gets the lot that is Thurston Park, in the 200 block of Warren Street, and HCDPA gets the half of the lot at the end of Warren Street that belonged to the City to create a single developable lot. The idea is to build something on the site to replace the two buildings, visible in the photograph below, that were demolished during urban renewal.

  • The Council also approved the issuance of serial bonds, in an amount not to exceed $360,000, to purchase air packs for the Fire Department.
  • The Council also passed two resolutions relating to the application for a grant from Empire State Development to do a parking study. The first determined that such a study would be a Type II action under SEQR; the second authorized the mayor to apply for the grant.   

The law the Council enacted last night was Local Law No. 4 of 2018, the vacant buildings law, which will require owners to register uninhabited buildings and pay a fee for each year a building remains unoccupied. Before the Council voted, Bujan proposed amending the law to double the annual fee for vacant buildings, increasing the fee from $250 to $500 in the first year, $500 to $1,000 in the second, $1,000 to $2,000 in the third, $1,500 to $3,000 in the fourth, and from $2,000 to $4,000 in the fifth year and every subsequent year. The aldermen agreed to the amendment and voted unanimously to enact the law as amended. The next step for the law will be a public hearing held by the mayor before signing or vetoing the legislation.

By a motion and a second, the aldermen agreed to lay Local Law No. 5 of 2018--the "Stewart's proposal--on their desks and to send it to the Hudson Planning Board and the Columbia County Planning Board for review and a recommendation. DePietro reminded the aldermen that the recommendations of the planning boards are "advisory not binding."

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Rick Rector spoke about the thirteen projects that have been approved for DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funding. Rector explained that a state representative will be assigned to each of the projects and "we have to have the money upfront," in other words, the City has to spend $9.7 million before it will be reimbursed $9.7 million. "The fun starts now," said the mayor.

Dan Udell's video of last night's Council meeting can now be viewed by clicking here.

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