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Rose Hill subidvision decision tabled

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MASSENA - The village board has tabled green lighting Rose Hill Foundation’s proposal to subdivide and sell off a portion of the adolescent drug and treatment center’s property.

Foundation officials announced plans for a new baseball diamond and soccer field for its patients several months ago. Rose Hill is situated on 200 acres of land at the northwestern corner of the village, and the foundation planned to subdivide nine parcels near the front of the property on County Route 43 to pay for the athletic fields.

The foundation has received approval from the village planning board, but needs a waiver from the Board of Trustees before it can move forward. Village code requires any property within 100 feet of a water and sewer connection must hook into that. Foundation officials said that cost would be too cumbersome and wipe away any profits from the property sale, necessitating the waiver.

“It’s important we have this waiver so that any individual buying this property will realize community water and community sewer is not available,” Foundation Treasurer W. John Davis said Tuesday night. “They’re going to have wells and septic systems just like the current families who live on the Town Line Road.”

But Mayor James F. Hidy and Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld said they did not yet have enough information to support it; the village board tabled action on the project at its meeting this week. Mr. Hidy said Rose Hill’s waiver could set a precedent with other developers that the village doesn’t want.

“You have all these developers out there that are going to say ‘Why should I pay to have these properties developed’?” he asked.

“It’s not an easy decision to make. We represent the entire village of Massena. We’ve got close to 10,000 people to worry about.”

Mr. Ahlfeld said the village annexed the Rose Hill property years ago so that the center could receive water and sewer services. Now, the foundation wants to play by another set of rules, he said.

“Now, there’s another game in town, and we don’t want to play your game,” he said.

But foundation board member Ed Fay wondered what the harm was in the waiver. The village has the opportunity to gain thousands of dollars in tax revenue if Rose Hill sells the properties, he said.

“If nothing sells, you don’t lose money,” he said. “If you sell one lot instead of nine, the village wins.”

R. Shawn Gray questioned why the village board wouldn’t support such a project. Comparing not-for-profit Rose Hill to other developers is like “apples and oranges,” he said.

“If you don’t give them the waiver, they’re not going to do the project and you’re not going to have any money,” Mr. Gray said. “It’s kind of a no-brainer ... You have the possibility of adding who knows how much to your tax base.”

Businessman Real “Frenchie” Coupal, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, spoke of the water and sewer installation’s financial burden. He barely broke even on a development project he once spearheaded near Massena Memorial Hospital.

“Whoever does it is going to lose their shirt,” he said.

The village board will likely revisit the issue at its Oct. 2 meeting. Mr. Davis said the foundation will continue pursuing the proposal and said he has no hard feelings against the village board.

“They’re trying to do a job just like I’m trying to do a job for Rose Hill,” he said. “Hopefully when we come together at the next meeting, we will get a favorable consideration.”

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