By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO January 15, 2002 - Last year, New York State Governor George Pataki came to Sullivan County to announce the county had been deemed an Empire Zone.
In the seven months since, Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner Alan Sorensen has been preparing county officials, attorneys, accountants, bankers, and business owners for the benefits it will bring. Among these benefits will be tax breaks and incentives to bring businesses to the area.
Only certain parts of the county will be deemed Empire Zones. To do this, a local law must be passed to establish the zones, but before any local law is passed, a public hearing must be held.
Setting a date for the public hearing on the Empire Zone was recently discussed at the Sullivan County Legislatures Planning and Economic Development Committee.
Sorensen stated that his department was preparing a map and a table for the Empire Zone, and the county attorneys office was drawing up the law.
The original proposed date for the public hearing was to be on Thursday, Feb. 7. However, the legislators did not seem too comfortable with the proposal.
Before we go forward, I want to see a map, commented Legislator Rodney Gaebel. We need to set a time frame to discuss the changes.
Committee Chair Bob Kunis suggested setting up a special meeting to discuss the issue and Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy questioned the date of the public hearing.
Why on the 7th and not the 21st? Pomery asked. If we push it back, we can bring it through committee prior to the full meeting.
The lawmakers agreed on that point. Questions were raised concerning the number of applications and how often the law could be amended to add areas to the Empire Zone.
The lawmakers agreed that they were not comfortable and needed a special meeting to further discuss the issue.
Sorensen stated that it would be at least a week before all the materials needed would be ready. When it is ready however, Kunis will call a special meeting to further discuss the issue. The resolution to set the public hearing for Feb. 21 was passed by the committee. It will be brought up before the full board on Thursday, Jan. 24.