Richmondville okays apartments


By Jim Poole

Under discussion for months, the 40-unit apartment complex proposed for Richmondville received its final approval Saturday morning.
Village trustees unanimously approved Candlewood Court, which will stand next to Radez School, despite objections––and a few endorsements––from residents.
In past public hearings, residents opposed the project because of increased traffic, high rents, whether the units will be filled and the payment in lieu of taxes–-a tax break––developer Housing Visions will receive.
Those concerns surfaced again at Saturday’s special meeting, but village officials believed the positives outweigh the negatives.
“This has the potential to bring in over 100 people,” Mayor Kevin Neary said. “That’s people shopping and buying gas. It’s an ecosystem.
“You’re not going to get business here without people.”
Trustee Milan Jackson agreed.
“If we want the village to grow, it has to be looked at a different way,” he said. “Richmondville is a great place to live. That’s why I think people will rent here.”
Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry attended the meeting to explain the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), a major objection.
He said Housing Visions’ first offer, $26,000, “is not a bad starting place.” The county, Cobleskill-Richmondville School District, Town of Richmondville and the village would share that figure, with the village receiving about $4,000 the first year, Mr. Cherry said.
The PILOT, however, is negotiable, and Mr. Cherry recommended an inflation factor that would raise payments each year, and a 15-year term for the agreement.
Mr. Cherry, who’s negotiated several PILOTs beneficial to local taxpayers, will help negotiate this one.
Chris Trevisani, Housing Visions’ director of development, said his company wouldn’t build the complex if it didn’t agree with the terms of the PILOT.
In response to complaints about high rents––starting at $800 for a one-bedroom unit––Mr. Trevisani said the rent is in line with their research and will cover their debt service.
Estimated at $6 million, the project will receive a $4 million state grant. Housing Visions will fund the remaining $2 million.
And what are viewed as high rents can serve a purpose, Mr. Jackson observed.
“People who can afford these [apartments] are people we want in our community,” he said.
Assessed only as farmland now, the property would generate more tax income for the village, Mayor Neary said. And the estimated $24,000 in water and sewer fees would help with infrastructure costs, he said.
Residents worried that if the complex isn’t filled, Housing Visions will lower its standards for tenants.
But Mr. Trevisani said his company will maintain its policy of stringent background checks––credit, income verification, background––of tenants.
Also, if tenants are slow to come, Housing Visions will broaden its marketing beyond the Richmondville-Cobleskill-Worcester area, Mr. Trevisani said.
He added that Candlewood Court will have a full-time manager and maintenance person on site during business hours and available 24/7 otherwise.
At the end of the nearly two-hour meeting, Mayor Neary and Trustees Jackson, Vivian Thurber and David Hotzler voted to approve the project. Trustee Paul Hahn Jr. was absent.