Development Corporation unveils plans for former airport

PLATTSBURGH The former Clinton County Airport property could one day become a hub for local business. According to Keith R. Matott, facilities and project manager for The Development Corporation, plans to develop the site have received favorable reactions after being unveiled to Clinton County Legislature Finance Committee and the Plattsburgh Noon Rotary Club. The plans, drafted by Canadian firm Stantec Planning and Landscape Architecture, show the development would envelope the 599.8-acre parcel currently owned by the county and two neighboring parcels owned by The Development Corporation. The roughly 25-year build-out would be phased, said Mr. Matott, with development likely beginning near the intersection of Rugar Street and Military Turnpike. The main access road for the property would run from that intersection to Airport Road, utilizing the former airport runway and its existing infrastructure. Eventually, an additional access road connecting to the intersections of State Route 22B and Route 3 could also be created. The northern portion of what would be a nearly 800-acre development would consist of light manufacturing facilities which Mr. Matott said would be a natural extension of the neighboring industrial park. Commercial buildings are shown to the west end of the property and duplex lots are shown to the east. Conversion of the former CommutAir buildings also at the east of the property would also be included for the Plattsburgh Aeronautical Institute, which is being operated by Clinton Community College and CV-TEC. Accommodating parking is dispersed throughout the development, with shade trees and shrubbery acting as buffer zones. Parking would also be placed to the rear of buildings in order not to be seen from roads which would traverse the pedestrian-friendly development. A government center would be the prime focus of the multi-million dollar development, offering space potential uses such as outreach offices or a post office. Development of one portion of the property into a mixture of townhouses and commercial space would depend on the future of an aeronautical navigation aid, located at the center of the property. Mr. Matott said development within a 1,000-foot radius of the system is federally prohibited, though that would change if the system could be relocated or decommissioned. As that determination could take several years, it is likely development would be phased around that portion of the parcel, Mr. Matott said. The south end of the property would involve the construction of single-family homes and a nine-hole golf course. Surrounding wetlands would also be utilized as natural buffers and aid in storm-water abatement, reducing the need for storm-water retention ponds. A bicycle/walking path connecting to a river front park would also be included so the public could take advantage of the scenic view along the Saranac River. Weve got such a beautiful, beautiful resource with this waterfront being on the Saranac River. We wanted to be able to take advantage of that, said Mr. Matott. Though plans for the property have been drawn up for The Development Corporation, the plans are not set in stone, Mr. Matott noted. Before a project of this magnitude could come to fruition, the property would first have to belong to The Development Corporation. The project would then be subject to environmental impact studies, zoning changes and other approvals at the local and state levels. Its not a done deal, thats for sure, said Mr. Matott. These are just our collective thoughts of what could potentially happen. We merely wanted to provide an idea of what could be done with the property to make it a viable part of the community. The plan would be for The Development Corporation to initially purchase the property from the county, said Mr. Matott, then act more as stewards of the property and as master developers. Our real drive is bringing quality companies and jobs to the area, he said. Our long-term interest is industrial area, but as master developers we would come up with a phasing plan and work with other developers who would then purchase portions of this from us in logical order as market demands. The main thing development of the site would mean to the community is additional revenue for local municipalities, said Mr. Matott. We wanted to be able to bring a good share of this property back to the tax rolls, and thats something this plan does, he said. We wanted to design something that would be a destination, something that can attract people to this area. The outcome of any plans for the property, however, is a long way off, said Clinton County Legislature chairman James R. Langley Jr. While he admitted the plans are a positive representation of what could be done with the property, that is all they are plans. The reality of this is theres quite a ways to go before [the property] is even available for development, said Mr. Langley. Since the federal government waived $17 million in grant assurances on the property, they have the final say as to whats acceptable for that sale of the property as well. The property, which is currently assessed for approximately $5.4 million, would likely need to be sold for fair-market value, he added. The proposal is a very good one for the use of that property, said Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernard C. Bassett. Its exciting. Its potentially lots of jobs. It gives the town of Plattsburgh something were missing as a municipality, but obviously theres a great deal to get from here to there. The general public will have an opportunity to view The Development Corporations plan at the Plattsburgh town councils regular meeting this Monday, Feb. 11. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

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