Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crony Capitalism at its Worst

Below I offer more details on this sorry Ginsberg deal. Here is the shorter version. Meeting tonight.

Wednesday, Sept. 10th at 7pm at Ghent Town Hall
"PLEASE TAKE NOTICE THAT the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Ghent will hold a regular meeting on 9/10/2014 at 7pm at the Town Hall, 2306 Route 66, Ghent, NY at which time the applications by Ginsberg/Crawford & Associates for variances/code interpretation will continue to be reviewed."

Report from the Columbia Paper from the last ZBA meeting "Ghent Residents give freezer plan frosty critique"

Here is an excellent article on the project on Sam Pratt's blog.

Not fair: Conflicts of interest

Ken Flood, chair of the Columbia County Economic Development Committe said, "not every member did business with the company (Ginsberg)."

Only the majority of the board does business with Ginsberg.

Ginsberg was the chair of the board last year, 2013, and hired Floor to be his replacement.

“The members of the CEDC board are all related to Ginsberg’s — not as family, they all do business together,” said Hillsdale supervisor Art Baer. “I want to make sure there is no conflict of interest there in proposing these deals with Ginsberg’s because of it.” Flood said no members of Ginsberg’s serve on the board of the CEDC, and that not every member did business with the company. Maybe not every member, but his statement implies some do, which can give the impression that the deal with Ginsberg's is not above board."

Not fair: Free land

In these CEDC minutes from 7/29/14 you can see that the land "sale" for $1 was approved unanimously by the CEDC Board. 

Total parcel acreage is 33 acres with the town line going through the parcel.
Town of Claverack has 14.8 acres which butts my property.
Town of Ghent is 18.2 acres which butts Rt.66.

The property as stated by CEDC's, Flood was "inherited " from the R. Ribley estate.  Royal Ribley, passed away in 1993, the County was deeded the 33 acre parcel at a cost to the County's Taxpayers for $167,000.00  in 1995.  

The following twenty (20) years the County allowed this parcel (farmland) to remain fallow demonstrating, again, its' usual fiduciary stewardship. 

Now this parcel most, recently appraised at $280,000.00, is to be sold for $1.00.

In addition to no taxes and free land, Ginsberg gets $516,000 in grant money.

Not fair: PR for Ginsberg paid by the taxpayer

Also discussion re the hiring of Behan Communications by CEDC for 10K to do PR work for the Ginsberg project. Several Board members...Sarah Sterling and Colin Stair, have expressed concern over the conflict of interest with David Crawford and Behan, but they were hired anyway, without Board approval. 

Not fair:  Ginsberg gets repeated exemptions from taxes

Ginsberg may now have a PILOT that allows them to avoid paying taxes at THEIR CURRENT LOCATION. It's my understanding that it started 15 years ago at 23K/year and his now reached the full amount of around 90K/year. I have not confirmed these details.

Ginsberg is getting a second PILOT, mortgage tax exemptions for the second time, and no NY State sales tax is proposed according to the letter from from CEDC on the Ghent town website. 

Not fair: Ginsberg's project violates many provisions of the zoning law

As such each towns ZBA needs a setback variance from the towns line to join the building. Each towns ZBA needs an area variance for height (50 feet) exceeding 35 foot permitted height. Town of Ghent requires a Variance for mining (removing soil from site)in excess of 300 yards. Proposed removal is for 180.000 yards. Variance NOT applied for in Ghent is (section 190-28 in Ghent code)is for exceeding 10% of parcel with a building  in excess of permitted height.Proposed building covers 25.9% of Ghent parcel. Also , no signs may be attached to a structure which is in excess of permitted height in the Town of Ghent, perhaps another variance may be required.

Too many variances!

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