The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency debated Tuesday adding more public hearing notification requirements for projects in the wake of a controversy over tax breaks for the Green Acres Mall where critics say they weren’t informed.
The IDA also discussed requiring developers to get appraisals of the projected finalized projects to see what a property’s value would become after improvements.
The IDA board will take the topics up again during its governance committee meeting on Feb. 16, held before its regular board meeting at 9 a.m.
Both issues have been debated by residents and elected officials after controversy developed over tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream two years ago. Taxpayers and local officials have said the mall’s tax breaks led to hundreds of dollars in tax hikes for residents. But IDA officials said the tax increases are the fault of school budgeting practices.
Critics of the agreement have also said not every entity affected was notified of public hearings about the deal before the IDA board approved it.
The IDA board on Tuesday proposed notifying lawmakers, including a county legislator, Hempstead Town councilman and state senator and assemblyman, when a project arises in their districts.
“So it’s not armchair quarterbacking after the fact,” IDA board member Steven Raiser said. “It’ll allow for more people to be involved.”
Several elected officials have outspoken against the Green Acres agreement in recent months. Representatives from the offices of state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) attended Tuesday’s meeting.
The board also considered making applicants post a sign on the property about a project if it were near a residential area. Otherwise, the applicant would have to send mailers out to residents who live within a certain distance.
But IDA board treasurer Florestano Girardi raised concerns about a mailer. “I think if you do a mailing, you’re going to get a lot more resistance from the public,” he said.
But chairman Arthur Nastre said that wouldn’t be a problem. “We shouldn’t be afraid of having to deal with the public,” he said.
In the second half of the hourlong meeting, Nastre said requiring appraisals could help the IDA develop a project’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, program.
Again Girardi objected. “Why do we need this?” he said. “Everybody’s got a bad taste in their mouth because of Green Acres.”
Fred Parola, the agency’s executive director, said some applicants might take their projects to the Nassau County IDA instead if too many additional requirements are imposed.
“If you make this too onerous, they’re going to go to the County of Nassau,” Parola said.