Story by Lourice Angie
Despite the ongoing current COVID-19 health crisis, the Town of Warwick continued with their efforts to acquire the Kutz Camp property, located at 46 Bowen Rd. in Warwick. A Public Hearing on this acquisition was held on Thurs., Feb. 13, and those in attendance were supportive of the purchase. To date, no additional public comment has been submitted to the Town Board.
The Town ordered and received an independent appraisal of the property. Due to a limited number of comparable sales, the full market value was appraised at $5 million, which is below the contract price. It was determined that the Town could bank development rights as part of the transaction pursuant to the Town Code provisions that originally created the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), and, in the future, sell them for development in the Town’s receiving zones.
Using the conservative formula in section 164-47.4 of the Town Code, it was estimated that the 85-acre Kutz Camp property would support a minimum of ten lots. By using recent land sales, the Town valued the lots at $700,000. These lots and value of $700,000 will be placed in the Town’s TDR bank account, and future sale proceeds will be placed back into the Town’s Community Preservation Fund.
In addition, the appraisal did not value the furniture, equipment or fixtures on the property. The Town has valued these at approximately $300,000 and is seeking independent confirmation of that amount. With the value in the appraisal, the TDR rights that are banked by the Town and the value of furniture, fixtures and equipment, that brings the value of the property to $6 million.
The Town Board discussed the price differential with the seller, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and the seller agreed to reduce the sales price by $100,000. This concession and the historic practice that has been deemed acceptable for a municipality to acquire property at a premium of 10% over its inherent value, brought the value of the property to $6.6 million, which is $200,000 over the contract price.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton noted that there is value attributed to the uniqueness of this opportunity and that the Town was able to purchase the property without any additional burden on the general tax fund. The acquisition cost of the Kutz Camp property will be paid from CPF funds that are specifically earmarked for such a purpose and the protection of Warwick’s rural quality, agricultural character and natural environment.
Supervisor Sweeton considered all of the comments from the Public Hearing, in addition to the Board’s own conversations with their constituents. The acquisition will have no impact on either the taxable base of the Town or the current revenue needed from taxpayers and it meets the stated purpose of Warwick’s Community Preservation Plan.
The Board voted unanimously in favor of the acquisition on Thurs., Apr. 23, and adopted a resolution approving the purchase. It was agreed to pay the entire purchase price of $6.4 million through the Community Preservation Fund within the next five years. This includes the land, equipment, structures and development rights. Future plans for the property have not yet been disclosed, a study will likely be conducted to determine the next steps.
“We had an overwhelmingly positive public hearing and did not receive additional public comment, but each Board member has spoken to members of the community who are in favor of this and I think for the long-term benefit of Warwick this is a wise purchase,” said Supervisor Sweeton.
The public is still advised to practice social distancing guidelines and adhere to the Governor’s executive order of using a facemask when unable to social distance, especially when going into stores.
“We want to thank everyone who is still out there still working, especially our grocery stores, mail carriers, sanitation workers as well as our public employees, police and highway department and our staff at the Town Hall. Try to support our local businesses if you can. Many restaurants are offering take out and we appreciate that,” said Sweeton
Healthcare Workers Local Response
Sweeton commended St. Anthony Community Hospital on its great service to the community.
“They are doing very well and they have plenty of equipment for their personnel and their spirits are high. Community members are delivering food to them as a way to thank them,” said Sweeton. “Volunteer efforts throughout the Town are amazing.”
The Adopt a Warwick Senior program, has 253 volunteers helping seniors who are staying at home to get essential groceries and medications.
Donations of Face Masks & Supplies
Sweeton also thanked the members of the Municipal Compensation Alliance, the Town’s workers compensation insurance carrier, who secured and supplied 125 face masks to the Town. The masks have been distributed to Town office employees, Friendly Visitor Program volunteers, Dial-A-Bus employees, and are available to the Warwick Police Department and DPW employees.
Additionally, Town Clerk Eileen Astorino reported that local resident Jan Brunkhorst donated hand-sewn cloth masks to Town DPW workers. Many local businesses have also donated hand sanitizer and disinfectants to be used in all Town offices.
Warwick Humane Society In Need of Donations
As a designated essential business, the Warwick Valley Humane Society continues to provide care to shelter pets and is available for animal control each day. Although the shelter remains closed to the public, they are conducting adoptions by processing applications and scheduling individual appointments.
The shelter is still in dire need of donations. Any supplies donated can be left at the front door of the shelter located at 48 Public Works Rd., with the name and address of the donor included, so they are able to acknowledge the donation. To help support the Humane Society send monetary donations to P.O. Box 61 Warwick, NY 10990 or via Paypal at www.wvhumane.org.
The next Town Board meeting will be held on Thurs., May 14, at 7:30 p.m. In accordance with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order, Town Board meetings will be closed to the public but can be viewed live online via Zoom. A link to the meeting will be placed in the Warwick Valley Dispatch, and on the Town website at www.townofwarwick.org.