By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Following public outcry and concerns that the city was swapping private property, Mayor Gary Herzig has announced that Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS), the organization spearheading a multifamily housing development project located off River Street in Oneonta’s Sixth Ward, has requested to have its plan removed from the Oneonta Planning Commission meeting agenda on Wednesday, Nov 21.
RSS’s decision came after Oneonta’s City Council chose not to move forward with a swap of city property for private property that was a necessary part of the planned location for the housing development, which would be for residents with low-to-moderate incomes.
RSS’s proposed 64-unit housing development project, with 14 of the units intended for those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, stirred up controversy when it first became publicly known last September. At a heavily attended Oneonta Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 17, 2018, RSS presented its application for the housing project and a detailed blueprint of it.
After hearing numerous Sixth Ward residents express their views, mostly in opposition to the project, the Planning Commission voted to have RSS’s application tabled until the next meeting, recommending RSS uses this time until then to consult with various entities and to consider using the 80-100 vacant houses throughout the City for the development.
With the city retaining ownership of that area, which is at the corner of Duane and West Broadway Streets, RSS no longer has “full control over that property,” the mayor said. The organization said it had to withdraw its plan from further consideration of the City Council and rethink the location.
The City Council’s decision to not go through with the city-private-property swap was likely prompted by Mayor Herzig’s request to have it removed from the Oneonta City Council’s Nov. 6 meeting agenda. Mayor Herzig stated he had the item removed from the agenda because he “felt there wasn’t significant opportunity for public input” on it.