Upstate Update: Skoufis Announces $50K to Bolster Animal Welfare in Orange County; New Paltz Rejects Rent Measures; Briefs

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Skoufis Announces $50K to Bolster Animal Welfare in Orange County

Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County) has secured $50,000 in grant funding for Pets Alive, a no-kill animal rescue center located in Middletown. The money is earmarked to cover expenses associated with replacing their deteriorating 50-year-old kennel in the new facility that’s currently under construction, providing a needed upgrade to ensure the safety and comfort of rescued animals.

The upgraded kennel will feature improvements including dedicated spaces for medical evaluations, the addition of 51 dog kennel enclosures, and an expansion of the non-profit organization’s community outreach programs.

“Pets Alive continues to demonstrate phenomenal success in providing sanctuary and compassionate care for dogs, cats, farm animals, and various critters seeking refuge,” said Skoufis. “I’m thrilled that this funding will empower them to further enhance their services, ensuring our beloved animals are treated with the care they deserve.”

“Through the support of Senator Skoufis, this grant is a beacon of hope, propelling forward our mission and our project for a state-of-the-art Community Resource and Adoption Center,” said Becky Tegze, Pets Alive Executive Director. “This moves us closer to becoming an even bigger and better resource for our animal-loving community, helping us support both ends of the leash. We thank the Senator for believing in our vision and enabling us to create positive change for Orange County.”

New Paltz Rejects Rent Measures; Newburgh Adopts Rent Stabilization

The mayor and trustees of the Village of New Paltz declined to declare a housing emergency, a necessary pre-condition to adoption of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA).

Under state law, municipalities are eligible to enact rent stabilization for buildings constructed before 1974, with six or more units. The municipality must declare a housing emergency — something that can’t be done until a vacancy study is conducted that finds multifamily vacancy rates below 5 percent. In New Paltz, a study found a 2.7 percent vacancy rate.

Nevertheless, elected officials decided not to declare a housing emergency. Only about 20 percent of the village’s apartments would have become eligible for rent control. When exempting college dormitories from the equation, the volume of eligible units dwindles.

“This is a very blunt instrument that is probably not useful for a community like ours,” Mayor Tim Rogers said of the state’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act.

The mayor has said new units in the coming years will improve rental affordability in the village.

On Monday, in Newburgh, the City Council unanimously adopted the ETPA after accepting a study showing multifamily vacancies at 4%. An opposition campaign directed at Newburgh residents and Mayor Torrance Harvey by the New York State Association of Realtors failed to prevent the emergency housing declaration.  “I want to say congratulations to the people of the city of Newburgh,” Harvey said at the meeting. “Their voices have been heard.”

The Newburgh study included sixty-eight properties, totaling 738 units. 622 were occupied, 87 units were excluded based on the units being unavailable for occupancy. The 29 vacant and available units yielded a vacancy rate of 3.93 percent.

After a year of deliberation — infused with dueling testimony from landlords and renters in the one-square-mile Village of Nyack — the village trustees last month adopted the ETPA effectively capping rent increases in apartment buildings constructed before 1974 that contain 25 or more units.

Rent stabilization can severely limit rent increases and allows tenants to pass lease-renewal rights to heirs without landlord approval. Critics say it limits availability and dis-incentivizes landlords from investing in their properties. Proponents point towards the promotion of housing stability and affordability.

UnisonArts & Learning Center Relocating To Donated Site

The UnisonArts & Learning Center is relocating from Mountain Rest Road to 9 Paradies Lane just off state Route 299 in New Paltz near the New Yor State Thruway. UnisonArts Executive Director Faheem Haider expects the move to the building on a 1.9-acre site, which was donated to the organization by local attorney Daniel Getman in 2020, will be completed by end of March 2024.

This will be the first time the nonprofit has owned its facility. The organization has rented space at 68 Mountain Rest Road since its beginning in 1976. The new property has an 18th-century home that was bought in the 1790s by Jacob Hasbrouck, a descendent of the Huguenot families who were New Paltz’s earliest European settlers. Records show that the Hasbrouck Family used to house tenant farmers who looked over the land. Their heirs ultimately sold it in the 1930s.

The relocation brings the organization closer to the heart of the village, with easy access to the Thruway.

During the move, Unison will pause its visual arts and concert programming but will continue workshops and Movie Lab programming. Future programming will include ensemble acts and programming focusing on young talent at SUNY New Paltz and in Ulster County, avant-garde artists, and composers who have not found a home to workshop while also continuing to support visual arts.

Short-term plans call for the 18th-century portion of the building to house rotating visual arts exhibitions while a more modern portion built by Getman in 2006 will house performing arts programming with a capacity for about 50. Eventually Unison hopes to build a two-story 32 by 32 ft “environmentally conscious” performing space in a separate building, which will include theater, film and concerts, and be available as a rented venue.

Town of Ulster To Consider Request For Zoning Flexibility at iPark 87 East Campus

The Town of Ulster on December 21 will hold a public hearing to seek input on a request by National Resources to rezone iPark 87 east campus to be a municipal Redevelopment Overlay District (ROD).

Established over a decade ago at the request of former TechCity owner Alan Ginsberg, the ROD was intended to allow for zoning flexibility in the Office and Manufacturing District. Ginsberg hoped the ROD would allow the fallow development to attract a broader range of businesses in the technology field.

The move failed to keep TechCity afloat, but the ROD remains in place.

National Resources has already come before town officials to discuss the ROD, seeking a zoning amendment in September that would allow the developers to have some fully-residential buildings in areas where first floor retail space was required.

That change would also allow for two proposed five-story residential units.

The December 21 public hearing will give local residents an opportunity to have their say.

National Resources purchased the former TechCity in early June 2022, which included the exchange of 18 parcels for the eradication of $10.82 million in unpaid taxes by the former owner. The property deeds for the parcels were transferred to the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance and were then sold to National Resources for $5 million to be paid over a five-year period, with a commitment to cover a minimum of $7 million in environmental cleanup costs, removal of debris and completion of interior demolition of abandoned buildings.]