City of Plattsburgh hopes to change municipal boundaries

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) The city of Plattsburgh hopes its plan to redraw its boundaries with the town wins approval soon-- it's a process that could help spur economic development and revitalize the city waterfront.

The city bought land in the town of Plattsburgh last year. Now, they want to make that city land, making the city 7 percent larger.

Our Kelly O'Brien learned this is fairly common in New York but is rarely successful. She looked into what's a stake and why this is not a simple process.

Tucked off Rugar Street in the town of Plattsburgh, you'll find a vacant lot.

The city is already using a parcel of land on Reeves Lane off of Rugar Street as the city's department of public works, but it's the land right across from them where they want to put the new municipal lighting department.

"This has been a decadeslong exploration," said Mayor Colin Read, D-Plattsburgh.

Currently, the municipal lighting department sits on city gold-- a waterfront access that could be making the city money if the city sells to a private developer and put the property on the tax rolls.

"As part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we received an extra million dollar grant to take the MLD buildings down and create developable space, park space, etcetera, down by the waterfront," Read said.

That's why the city purchased the 42 acres adjacent to the department of public works last July, planning to rebuild the MLD and hopefully, other businesses will flock to the 230-acre parcel.

"We know our cheap power is incredibly attractive," Read said.

But the city doesn't want to pay taxes on the property to the town, so it is attempting to annex the 230 acres and make it officially part of the city. They are currently going through a lengthy state approval process. Mayor Read expressed frustration with the delay because that $1 million grant for waterfront development has a deadline.

"We've been looking ultimately in the town because that's right next to the city and that's where the land is. We were hoping that would go a lot better and everyone would understand the advantage of us moving up there and bringing our own electricity to our own electricity department," Read said.

The town of Plattsburgh sent the city an offer to discuss the matter in person with all councilors and stakeholders present to make sure this is best for the region and the taxpayers in it.

"This isn't something that we're trying to put up a blockade on but we are trying to make a comprehensive review of the details and the facts," Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman said.

Mayor Read s hopes to sit down with the town and collaborate. They are moving along in the SEQRA process and will have hearings to make sure this is what is best for the region and it could ultimately end up in the court system.

Peter Baynes with the state's Conference of Mayors and Municipalities said a lot of cities try to do this but they rarely end successfully because the way the laws are written in the state gives the towns essentially the power to veto the idea, which many of them do because they don't want to lose property from their tax rolls either.