ONEONTA – A workshop to look at the process of annexing brought out a full house of Laurens and Town of Oneonta citizens who accused Common Council of planning to annex the Oneonta Municipal Airport and the city’s water supply.
“You must have some reason for holding this workshop,” said Bill Starna, the retired SUNY Oneonta anthropology professor. “Otherwise, are you just poking around in the dark?”
“There is no proposal here,” said Council Member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “This is just something to learn. No one is talking about annexing any specific property.”
Council Member Russ Southard, Sixth Ward, initially brought up the discussion of annexation after constituents asked why the city was paying property taxes to the Town of Oneonta and Laurens for the airport and reservoir.
“We pay about $100,000 in property taxes and these constituents were asking if we could annex it,” he said. “I didn’t know anything, and so I brought it forward to have a workshop.”
Wade Beltramo, NYCOM General Council, gave the presentation, where outlined all of the various ways a municipality could annex a property.
In order for the annexation to be triggered, the municipality being annexed could bring a petition, or the governments of the municipalities could meet and agree to annex the property. From there, a public hearing would be held and a vote would be taken of all the residents living in the area affected by the annexation.
“Annexation requires the consent of the people,” he said. “It is not eminent domain.”
The properties must also be contiguous, and the 87 acres of Catskill Area Hospice straddle the town/city line.
And although the presentation presented the information in general terms, Ronald DeThomas was insistent that the City had an agenda. “The City has many problems and they’re coming to the town with hands open because they’re broke,” he said. “This is a shot across the bow for the Town.”
Bob Wood, Oneonta Town Supervisor was confident that the city would not be able to annex the property. “I think it’s good that the city wanted to learn, but I don’t think it’s feasible because of the Hospice property.”
But Mayor Gary Herzig said he was pleased with the conversation. “I think we all learned something today,” he said. “It was a great session, and knowledge is always good.”