Legislators Block Plan To Return
Four Former Concord Properties
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO April 7, 2000 -- It takes five legislators to agree before the county embarks on a course of action, and Tuesday afternoon, Legislature Chairman Rusty Pomeroy discovered he was a few votes short.
At a special meeting of the Real Property Committee, Pomeroy presented a resolution that would have sold land the county obtained through tax foreclosure from one of the Concord-related corporations to Louis Cappelli, the new owner. Cappellis price for the properties would have been the back taxes, including interest and penalties up to the closing.
Last week, legislators agreed to sell Cappelli 13 of 17 properties the county owns that were either within or immediately adjacent to land that went with the hotel when it was sold at a bankruptcy auction a little more than a year ago. The legislature had already agreed to return that land to the new owner when Joseph Murphy was the winning bidder at the auction and the deal was a pro forma ratification of the previous decision.
Tuesday, however, how to deal with the remaining four parcels came under much closer scrutiny. The county has already received offers on two of the properties that are far in excess of the amount owed in back taxes.
Many of us were just not ready to make a decision on this, said newly elected legislator Jodi Goodman, one of the committee members who succeeded in blocking the action. We need to be very careful about how we make decisions. We have to look at the whole picture, and I still have a lot of homework to do. Im not voting on anything until Im comfortable with the information.
The battle marked the first time the new legislature has seriously taken on a controversial topic. Last year, a disagreement such as this would have been unlikely, but with the introduction of new legislators, the allegiances and alliances have yet to be formed. How the legislature finally resolves the issue could give a clue as to how things are decided for the next four years.
Cappellis plans for redeveloping the hotel call for the parcels in question to be incorporated into his proposed $500 million project. One of the parcels, a 64-acre piece situated behind the Ames Mall off Route 42, is slated to become a retail shopping area operated in conjunction with the hotel. He argues that the remaining properties are crucial to his plans.
On his part, Pomeroy has adopted the a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush philosophy regarding the land. He says he is concerned that too many deals in Sullivan County have been killed because property owners try to obtain extreme values for their property, and he does not want the county to adopt a position that might jeopardize the Concords redevelopment.
His resolution included clauses that called for Cappelli to meet specific deadlines in the development of the hotel, or the property would revert to the county. He says that will help insure that Cappelli continues with the project.
Goodman and several other legislators including Chris Cunningham, Kathy LaBuda and Rodney Gaebel however, remain unconvinced.
Were always worrying about the needs of the developer, said Goodman, but the county has needs too. Everybody knows how to play poker, and we just need to play better than the person were playing against.