When A Developer Does Not Get His Way Hysteria Ensues
by Paul Wolf - posted 2:45 am, September 8, 2013
The over the top media coverage and attack on the Niagara Falls Council Members that have questioned the Hamister hotel project has been amazing to me. The questions being asked seem reasonable to me. The following questions have been raised by Council Members:
– If you or I as an average Joe sought to purchase property from the City of Niagara Falls an appraisal would be done. Hamister is paying $100,000 for a piece of property that some Council Members believe is worth substantially more. Why is requesting an appraisal of the land being sold such a bad idea?
– The proposed development agreement submitted to the Council after 17 months of negotiations has some interesting provisions. The development agreement is not much of an agreement in that it is not binding on any of the parties. The agreement authorizes the Mayor to negotiate a contract with the developer and requires the City Council to give up its rights to approve what the Mayor negotiates or what is amended later. Why would an elected City Councilmember give up their rights provided under the City Charter to approve the actual project agreement? The Niagara Falls Reporter highlighted several issues with the proposed development agreement.
– The Council has asked for financing information from the developer showing that he has the ability to do the project. Not an unreasonable request. When people buy a vacant city owned home in Buffalo they have to show that they have the financial ability to fix the property.
– As the developer will receive a state grant and tax breaks, City Council Members have sought to limit the length of time that tax breaks are provided. Again not an unreasonable request in my opinion.
– Council Members have also asked that as part of the development agreement that local workers be employed on the project. Not unreasonable.
Hamister has called such requests “red herrings” and that he does not renegotiate deals. Essentially It’s Hamister’s way or no way. 99% of the time City Councils rubber stamp what is put before them. I personally find it refreshing that Councilmembers show that they are awake at times and ask questions. For having the gall to actually ask questions over a two month period on a document that took 17 months to be filed, the three Niagara Falls Council Members have been demonized by the Mayor and news media. Channel 2 news reporters have referred to the Councilmembers as “making a “bone headed” decision and a recent Buffalo News editorial refers to them as the “three blind mice” and the “three stooges”.
The hysteria created by the delay and questions raised by Council Members has been incredible to me. God forbid that elected officials have the gall to ask questions and God forbid that a wealthy developer does not get everything he wants.