GLOVERSVILLE - The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court in Fulton County decided following a special proceeding between Gloversville and the town of Johnstown that more than16 acres of developable land along Steele Avenue will be annexed into the city, according to court documents.
The case was reviewed by a panel of state Appellate Court judges - Richard T. Aulisi, Irad Ingraham and Angelo D. Lomanto - who decided the annexation into the city would be in the public's best interest.
The hearing for the case was held Dec. 10 and 11, and the decision was made Monday, according to court documents.
"The proposed annexation of the Annexation Parcel to the City of Gloversville is in the overall public interest, since the annexation would be beneficial to the City and the landowners, weighing the municipal services such as police, fire protection, sewer and water services ... and would create no significant injury or effect on the Town of Johnstown," the panel wrote in the court ruling.
City Attorney Anthony Casale said the court's decision will be a great benefit to the landowners and the city.
"Once this is annexed into the city, it will be wholly part of the city," Casale said. "Anything that develops within the property, once it's in the city, will be 100 percent city business. It's a monumental decision for the city of Gloversville, because it opens the door for it to develop approximately 17 acres right along Route 30A, which has already seen substantial development over the years."
The decision stated the city police and fire departments would be able to respond to emergency situations more quickly than the volunteer fire departments and Fulton County sheriff's deputies that patrol the area.
Court documents also noted the town of Johnstown doesn't have a municipal hydrant system, and the volunteer fire departments have temporarily run out of water fighting large fires in the past because it wasn't being ferried fast enough.
The revenue generated by the town of Johnstown for the land to be annexed amounted to $51.07 for the 2013 tax year, and the tax revenue generated by Gloversville will be considerably higher, according to court documents.
The owners of the property are Recreational Realty, Inc. and Stephen Mauro, and they are the only property owners in the area that sought to be annexed, according to documents. The documents said they have attempted to sell the property for about three years without success, and there is no current plan for development.
However, Mauro wants to develop 16.6 acres on the parcel, which is near the Gloversville and town of Johnstown border, but he needs sewer and water service from Gloversville.
The Common Council in September 2012 voted to annex land that would help Mauro move forward with development and support efforts to build an access road off Route 30A.
However, the town of Johnstown voted against the annexation, which resulted in the decision being handled in court.
"I would have been very surprised if it didn't go our way," Mayor Dayton King said. "The city has all the services, and I'm certainly excited for the owners to go forward with their plan of selling that property to a commercial developer, who will then create jobs, along with property and sales tax for the city and county."
Town Supervisor Nancy MacVean didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
Town of Johnstown Councilman Walter Lane said he wasn't aware of the court's decision, but explained the town didn't want the property to be annexed because the lost revenue may not be significant at the moment, but it will be once the property is fully developed.
"We didn't think it was necessary to do that, but if the judge decided it was necessary, that's OK," Lane said. "If somebody were to come in there and put a $6 million business parcel in there, that assessment becomes a great deal higher than the vacant property. The potential loss to the towns is a lot higher, which has been the reason we haven't wanted to let the city of Gloversville annex a lot of the land. All those taxes go to all of the towns in the county. That's money not just out of the town of Johnstown, but everybody else's pocket."
He said the inability to provide water and sewer service to developable land has made the town consider other alternatives to make that resource available.
Casale said the annexed land is located behind the hospice on Steele Avenue, and portions of the property are also along Route 30A.