Tonawanda News

July 31, 2013

Little League Drive deal reached

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda Mayor Ron Pilozzi announced he’s reached an agreement with Natale on a contract for the sale of a parcel off Little League Drive that will be made into a long-talked-about housing development. 

“Natale has a fine reputation for building quality homes. When you couple that with the beautiful location of the Veteran’s Park subdivision you have an unbeatable combination,” Pilozzi said in a statement. 

The release of the written agreement, which is available online on the city’s website, comes after almost three years of negotiations with the company and almost eight months of work on the contract. 

The city and Natale agreed on most of the basic terms in November, but attorney Laurence Rubin, of Kavinoky Cook LLC, who represented the city in the negotiations, said the two parties spent the last eight months going over the details of the contract, including the rerouting of a bike path on the property. 

The document calls for construction of 53 condominium-status homes that will be built in three phases. Four or five different models will be available in ranch and two-story designs. The sizes will range from 1,350 square feet to 2,200 square feet. 

Natale will pay a total of $192,000 for the 16.94-acre property, and will also pay for infrastructure costs at the site, including the installation of roads, water and sewer lines and street lighting. The infrastructure work is estimated to cost about $1.5 million.    

As a result of the condo status, the homes will 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,” Rubin said. 

Put simply, homeowners whose properties cost between $225,000 and $250,000 to buy will pay taxes as if the home was worth between $146,250 and $162,500.

The residents will also be paying a fee to the homeowners’ association, which will be responsible for most of the site’s snow plowing, street maintenance and garbage pickup. 

A public hearing on the contract will be scheduled for the end of August. The document will then go before the council, which will vote on directing the mayor to sign the contract. 

Pilozzi marked the contract as a success Tuesday.

“There are tradeoffs. They will be paying in less in taxes, but Natale is paying for all the infrastructure,” he said. “The bottom line is that this is going to improve the tax base and help boost city businesses.”

But some residents have opposed the project disagree. Roger Puchalski, who, along with his wife, Debbie, have led the fight against the plans, objected to many of the terms in the contract. Most notably, he cited previous appraisals of the property that listed its worth as $500,000 — not the $192,000 sale price in the contract. 

“There are certain elected officials in this city who want this development not because it’s the best deal or in the best interest of the residents to lose 16 plus acres of parkland but because it is something they can put on their campaign literature,” he said in a written statement. “If this were a sporting event, the headline would be: ‘Natale wins big.’”

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter@JessicaLBagley