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In Woodridge, Question To Annex or Not to Annex?

By Dan Hust
WOODRIDGE — November 13, 2007 — The Town of Fallsburg is tentatively in favor of it – but only if the Village of Woodridge is.
And at last Monday’s regular meeting, village board members couldn’t confidently say they were.
Developer Jerry Probst is seeking to turn 58 acres on the village’s southern outskirts into a 149-unit seasonal housing development, but to do so, he wants the entire development to sit within village boundaries and be rezoned for a higher density.
Currently, roughly half of his Lew Street-accessed acreage is solely under Fallsburg’s jurisdiction, and Woodridge officials recently met with Fallsburg’s leaders to discuss annexation.
Fallsburg told Woodridge it was OK by them so long as there was a guarantee that Probst would indeed develop the property, according to Village Trustee Joan Collins.
If Probst were to leave the land vacant, Fallsburg wouldn’t reap enough in taxes to offset the loss of highway department funding – which would go to Woodridge in an annexation.
Yet even though it would undeniably increase revenue for the financially-strapped village, Woodridge officials wavered on whether or not annexation would ultimately be wise.
“There’s a lot more questions I want to know about this project,” said Trustee James Slater – like whether it will be houses or condominiums.
Collins worried that the property could be sold to a tax-exempt entity, leaving the village without a potentially major source of revenue. Trustees pointed to Camp Morris as a cautionary example.
But Mayor Ivan Katz replied that Camp Morris is only tax-exempt on the camp side of the property, not in the area of living quarters.
“And you really can’t go by the fact that that is going to happen, because it could happen anywhere,” observed village attorney Jeff Kaplan.
Besides, said the mayor, “I know he [Probst] has some [units] sold. People are buying them. I know who’s buying them.”
Additionally, Probst has to erect a water tank and comply with so many local and state regulations that Katz was confident the village could ensure a properly-constructed, revenue-enhancing development.
The board majority ultimately seemed in favor of annexation but unanimously decided to table it for further discussion at the next meeting, set for Monday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the village hall.
Chalet Now Sold
After a decade of wrangling, the old ski chalet on Lew Street is now someone else’s problem.
With the blessing of the Woodridge Kiwanis, the village board accepted a $49,000 bid for the chalet, a sum which will be split between the village and the Kiwanis and used in part to fund a planned pavilion.
The chalet had long been a sore spot for several reasons, including an aborted attempt to turn it into a youth center.

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