Tonawanda News

Local News

May 7, 2014

Natale may sue City of Tonawanda

Tonawanda News — The Tonawanda council entered an executive session Tuesday night to discuss a potential lawsuit from Natale, the company that intended to build homes the Little League Drive property until the city severed ties with the builder last month.

City Attorney Ron Trabucco and Mayor Rick Davis said they are not able to provide more details about Natale’s possible lawsuit until they receive more information.

Natale was selected as the preferred developer after the city sent out a request for proposals in 2010. The two parties reached a tentative agreement at the end of July under former Mayor Ron Pilozzi, but the council never passed the contract and never approved the sale of the land.

That contract called for the construction of 56 homes ranging in cost from $180,000 to $300,000. Natale proposed to pay $192,000 for the 16.94-acre property, and would have also covered the infrastructure costs at the site.

The company requested that the city allow them to classify the homes under the state’s condominium status, so the homes would be assessed at a reduced rate.

“The result of assessing it that way is that it comes in at about 65 percent of the construction value. Those evaluated at 100 percent with comparable value of construction would be paying more in taxes,” Larry Rubin, the attorney the hired to represent it during the negotiations explained last year.

Put simply, homeowners whose properties cost $250,000 to buy would pay taxes as if the home was worth $162,500. The tenant proved highly controversial and many angry residents argued that the new homeowners wouldn’t be paying their fair share.

New council members, who took their seats in January, objected to the contract. Although Davis said he attempted to negotiate with Natale, he said his efforts were unsuccessful.

“Ultimately I couldn’t come to an agreement that I was comfortable with and that a supermajority of the council would agree to,” he said in April.

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