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Upstate Update: Construction To Modernize Sullivan County International Airport Begins; Kingston Gets Green Light On Rent Reduction Plan; Orange IDA Gets State-Imposed Monitor

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Construction To Modernize Sullivan County International Airport Begins

Sullivan County AirportConstruction has begun on a project to modernize the Sullivan County International Airport and create a state-of-the-art gateway that will fuel economic growth and foster tourism for the Catskill Region.

The project, which was awarded $18.5 million from the Governor’s $230 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, will replace the 55-year-old terminal with a 15,000-square-foot, energy-efficient building.

Governor Kathy Hochul says the building will be a welcoming destination for visitors to the region and a popular spot for residents to come and enjoy the Catskill Region’s scenic beauty.

The new terminal will have lots of natural lighting, an all-electric HVAC system utilizing high-efficiency heat pumps integrated with geothermal wells, an enlarged restaurant and bar area with an outdoor dining area, a pilot’s lounge and other amenities that will improve the traveler’s experience.

“Airports are the front doors to our Upstate communities and vital economic engines for the region,” Hochul said. “This project will provide the Catskills with the state-of-the-art airport it deserves and greet thousands of visitors per year as they explore the region.”

The Sullivan County International Airport was one of nine Upstate airports awarded a total of $230 million in the latest round of Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition funding. The awards are intended to promote, revitalize, and accelerate investments in upstate commercial passenger service airports.

Constructed in 1969, the Sullivan County International Airport is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, approximately five miles northwest of the Village of Monticello and 90 miles northwest of New York City. A major feature of the new terminal building will be a two-story glass curtain wall that will offer views across the apron, taxiway and runway to the Catskill Mountains. The restaurant/bar area on the second floor will also have a deck for outdoor dining and the main first floor waiting area will have a covered patio for outdoor seating.

The $23 million project is expected to create approximately 260 jobs. Work on the airport is expected to be completed by the spring of 2025.

Skoufis Announces Appointment of Monitor to Rein in Orange County IDA; Brian Sanvidge to Crack Down on Agency’s Corporate Welfare

Orange County IDABrian Sanvidge, Principal/Leader of Regulatory Compliance and Investigations for New York-based firm Anchin, has been named the state monitor to rein in the activities of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA).

The new monitor, a first-of-its-kind appointment negotiated by Senator James Skoufis as part of last year’s state budget, has the power to overrule the Orange County IDA’s tax break packages if they do not sufficiently consider the taxpayers, environment, or return on investment as is required by the agency’s own Uniform Tax Exemption Policy, said the Senator. “The monitor will also ensure all laws are being properly adhered to by the IDA, including the strict prohibition on conflicts of interest.”

Mr. Sanvidge’s tenure, which started in late March, will be paid for by the IDA–at no expense to taxpayers.

“I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Sanvidge this week and am thrilled that this appointment has been made at long last,” said Skoufis. “Our Orange County constituents know that many of the IDA’s recent deals have been horrible for their communities and their wallets, and they’ve been clamoring for real and lasting reform. Our new monitor will provide an added layer of accountability and state scrutiny, ensuring that more corporate tax dollars remain in our communities–where they belong.”

A Certified Inspector General and Certified Fraud Examiner, Mr. Sanvidge has more than 30 years of experience advising on fraud, forensic investigations, and providing litigation support to public and private sector clients. He specializes in highly regulated industries including construction, transportation, infrastructure, retail, hospitality, not-for-profits, specialty healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.

New York State Court Appeals Gives Kingston Green Light To Proceed With Rent Reduction Plan

City of KingstonA state appeals court has said that Kingston’s historic 15 percent rent reduction in rent-stabilized buildings can proceed.

The ruling from the state Appellate Division’s Third Department overturns a state Supreme Court decision from February 2023, which upheld Kingston’s rent stabilization law, while vacating the Ulster County city’s decision to reduce rents in buildings covered by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, New York’s rent stabilization law. Both decisions had been challenged by a landlord group seeking to block tenant protections.

The Appellate Division sided with tenants on all counts, also affirming Kingston’s vacancy study and allowing tenants to challenge rent increases between January 2019 and July 2022.

“Nothing in the applicable statutory language explicitly requires that (Kingston’s Rent Guidelines Board) adjust the rent upward rather than downward as petitioners claim, and petitioners’ argument as to why such a requirement should be implied is less than compelling,” the ruling reads.

Proponents say the appellate ruling is a victory for tenants and municipalities experiencing rapidly escalating housing costs.

The rent reduction, which Kingston’s Rent Guidelines Board passed by a 6-3 vote in November 2022, was the first in New York’s history. Kingston was the first city north of the New York City suburbs to enact rent stabilization. Ulster County has seen some of the most dramatic rental increases in the Hudson Valley: Between 2016 and 2020, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment rose by nearly 50 percent, according to the county’s rental housing survey.

The ETPA applies to buildings with more than six units built before 1974. Annual rental increases — and decreases — for those units are set by a Rent Guidelines Board with assistance from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The board meets annually to set new guidelines for rent adjustments.

Landlords sued to block Kingston’s rent stabilization and rental reduction in 2022, arguing that the city improperly conducted the housing vacancy study that enabled it to declare a housing emergency — a necessary precondition to adopting rent stabilization. The lawsuit was filed by the Hudson Valley Property Owners Association, a landlord group that has filed numerous lawsuits attempting to block tenant protections at the local and state levels over the past few years.

Though the Village of Nyack’s two attempts to impose rent stabilization under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) have yet to yield any rent restrictions, two local landlords and the Hudson Valley Property Owners Association (HVPOA) have gone to federal court to prevent a third attempt from bearing fruit.

Hudson Shore Associates Limited Partnership, the owner of 101 Gedney Street and Haven on the Hudson LLC, owner of 1 Haven Court have teamed up with a building owner in Poughkeepsie and the HVPOA, a nonprofit organization that operates as an association of landlords throughout the Hudson Valley, to have the recent amendments to the ETPA declared unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs filed an action for declaratory relief in federal district court in the Northern District of New York. Defendants include the Village of Nyack, the City of Poughkeepsie, New York State, and the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (the agency that administers the ETPA with the local municipalities).