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Jefferson County panel endorses warehouse, airport, JCC plans

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The warm weather and soft earth of spring seem to have firmly planted shovels in the minds of Jefferson County officials.

With a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for a new warehouse in the Corporate Park on outer Coffeen Street, a $25 million borrowing issue for a new residence hall at Jefferson Community College and nearly $345,000 for the expansion of the Watertown International Airport, development was the theme at county meetings Tuesday.

During the Finance and Rules Committee meeting, county legislators recommended moving $344,928 from the county’s general fund into the capital fund to support growth at the Watertown International Airport and its surrounding area.

The money came from a PILOT payment associated with a Fort Drum housing development project.

That PILOT was initially set up in 2005 as a way to encourage construction to meet the demand for available housing created by the expanding military post.

The final payment of these funds was made in 2012 but never transferred into the proper account.

With old PILOT payments newly disbursed, the committee turned its attention to recommending for approval a fresh PILOT agreement between the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and Suncap Watertown, LLC, a limited liability corporation formed in connection with SunCap Property Group, a Charlotte, N.C.-based real estate development firm.

Suncap Watertown, LLC, will develop and own a new 64,000-square-foot FedEx facility in the county corporate park, giving the carrier an opportunity to move out of its cramped quarters at 22530 Fisher Road.

Jonathan L. Greene, the SunCap representative, was on hand at a recent town of Watertown Planning Board meeting to witness the final approval of the project, which was designed by Michael E. Lundy, CEO of Lundy Development Corp.

At the time, Mr. Greene said the company hoped to break ground sometime in April and the facility would employ up to 100 full- and part-time employees during peak times of the year.

The 10-year PILOT agreement, which allows the company to start out paying 50 percent of all property taxes in the first year before increasing incrementally to the full amount, was originally created for Eagle Beverage.

Eagle was slated for the warehouse project before pulling out of its agreement with Mr. Lundy and the JCIDA in January, citing a changing company strategy.

The committee also had a large-scale development project to consider.

That was the 290-bed, 96,000-square-foot residence hall proposed at Jefferson Community College.

The Jefferson Faculty Student Association Auxiliary LLC is looking to finance the project with up to $25 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued through the Jefferson County Civic Facility Development Corp., a nonprofit local development corporation.

To do that, the county must first schedule two public hearings about the bond issue.

The bond will not involve any taxpayer money, said Daniel J. Dupee II, the college’s vice president for administration and finance, and it won’t be available for purchase on the open market. As a private placement bond, it will be serviced through a bank.

Mr. Dupee said he hopes to secure a bank’s commitment in the next week.

According to the resolution, which the committee recommended for approval, the first hearing will be held at 7:05 p.m. June 4 with the second hearing following immediately.

The Jefferson County Planning Board also gave the project its blessing earlier in the day when it sent the site plan back to the city of Watertown for final approval with its full endorsement.

In other business, the committee entered an executive session to discuss two personnel-related issues.

The first was to authorize the county’s public health director to offer more money to a candidate for director of patient services; the second was to discuss replacing the jail physician, Dr. David F. Rosner.

The meeting’s agenda included an email message from Sheriff John P. Burns to county administrators and legislators expressing dissatisfaction with Dr. Rosner’s job performance.

Mr. Burns recommended replacing Dr. Rosner with Dr. Collins F. Kellogg, whom he said was willing to accept the duties.

Rather than take any action on the resolution, the committee deferred the decision until next week, when the full board will meet. Legislators are also awaiting more documentation from the sheriff in support of his recommendation. That information is expected in the next couple of days, according to Finance and Rules Committee Chairman Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown.

The jail physician is paid approximately $29,000 a year, according to County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III.

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