Fulton County’s needed Walmart home rule bill stalled in NYS Assembly

The home rule bill that must be adopted before the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter can be built is sta

The home rule bill that must be adopted before the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter can be built is stalled in an Assembly committee and local officials are concerned.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King and town of Johnstown Supervisor Roy Palmateer sent a letter and a project summary this month informing key legislators of the crucial importance of passing the revenue-sharing bill by June 18.

“In order for this project to proceed [the bill] must be enacted so that a series of follow-up actions can occur,” and Wal-Mart can start construction over the summer, King and Palmateer said in the letter.

The legislation would allow the city and town to split property tax revenue on the Fulton County Credit Union property after it is annexed into the city and subdivided to create three commercial lots.

Wal-Mart officials have said their project depends on adjoining commercial development, and the access road to the Wal-Mart parking lot would pass through the credit union property.

A prior version of the tax-sharing law, already signed by Gov. David Paterson, allowed the two municipalities to share property tax revenue on any projects in the town made possible by city water and sewer.

The latest edition of the law became necessary when the Johnstown Common Council refused to approve sewer service to the credit union property if it remained in the town.

Town officials responded by agreeing to approve annexation into the city, but on the condition that the town would share the tax revenue. Though the proposed legislation is the mirror image of the law already approved, King said the Cities Committee’s legal staff has raised a number of concerns.

“I don’t understand the holdup,” said King, emphasizing that the bill “is a huge thing for us.”

The city of Johnstown, King said, “could have made this work, but they wanted to protect their own interests. Wal-Mart has spent a lot of money; to keep holding them up is dangerous,” King said of the possibility the retailer would give up on the project.

King said committee lawyers are asking for details on what might be developed on the three new Credit Union parcels.

“I’d like a Red Lobster and an Olive Garden,” King said, “but who knows.”

Palmateer could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon, but Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said he remains optimistic the Cities Committee will approve the bill June 2, a step that would send it to the floor in a matter of days.

Butler called the questions about future projects on the Credit Union land “a little bit perplexing. Every time we answer one, two more pop up,” he said of project questions put forward by the Cities Committee staff.

“I am hopeful,” Butler said, noting that “with the June 2 vote I think we’ll be moving in a positive direction.”

Peter Edman, an aide to State Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, said the bill is also scheduled for a vote June 2 by the Senate’s Local Government Committee. There are no apparent obstacles to passage in the Senate, he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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