From the beginning, Stewart's has offered a host community benefit agreement as an enticement to get the Common Council to change the City's zoning to accommodate its desire to expand, but it has never been clear exactly what they were offering.
Back in July, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), chair of the Common Council Legal Committee and the staunchest proponent of Local Law No. 5 of 2018, which changed the zoning, made it clear at a Legal Committee meeting and an informal Common Council meeting that he believed Stewart's would give Hudson some significant but undetermined amount of money which the City could use to revise the comprehensive plan and make comprehensive zoning revisions. "It is our job," Rosenthal told the public and his colleagues on the Council, "to engage [with 'corporate actors'] to our benefit."
The law was passed. Stewart's got what it wanted and is now before the Planning Board for site plan approval for the expansion. But we still don't know exactly what Stewart's is offering by way of a community host benefit agreement. Some statements, though, made by Stewart's representative Chuck Marshall at last Thursday's Planning Board meeting may provide some hints.
According to Marshall, "the host community benefit agreement is supposed to fund improvements to the intersection" of Green Street and Fairview Avenue. He spoke of negotiating with the Public Works and Parks Committee about what improvements would be included in the intersection. (The Public Works and Parks Committee is chaired by Eileen Halloran who from the beginning supported the Stewart's expansion because she saw it as a way to improve the intersection and address hydrology issues that plague that part of the city.) Marshall went on to say that Stewart's would only be required to pay 1 percent of the cost of improvements to the intersection, so if the improvements cost $100,000, Stewart's would have to contribute only $1,000, but Marshall assured the Planning Board, "Our contribution would be substantial"--not defining what he meant by substantial. There was no mention of money to fund a new comprehensive plan.
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