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New Scotland seeks to beef up commercial base

Town Board member preparing to form Economic Development Advisory Committee

— With homeowners bearing 95 percent of the tax burden, New Scotland is looking to grow commercial properties within its borders, but a lack of infrastructure cannot be easily remedied.

Touted as “the jewel of Albany County,” the town spans 58 square miles, encompassing seven hamlets and a village, and is home to more than 8,500 residents. Noticeably missing from the rural landscape is commercial development, but town officials are developing a group to tackle the disparity.

“We want to have a mechanism (where) we can promote some economic development that is complementary to the makeup of the town,” Town Board member William Hennessy said. “We really want this to be in concert with the comprehensive planning that we have been doing over the past several years.”

Hennessy is spearheading an effort to establish a town Economic Development Advisory Committee, with hopes of forming it during the “first half” of this year. He envisions the committee being a combination of commercial, residential and agricultural representatives, including people from as many hamlets as possible. The committee would be volunteer-based and provide recommendations to board members.

“We want to really focus on the entire town and not just certain regions of it,” Hennessy said. “We want to try to offset the tax burden as much as we can.”

Town Supervisor Tom Dolin said he welcomes the committee looking into expanding the commercial tax base.

“We certainly do have a large amount of undeveloped commercial property, and I would be interested to find out why it isn’t being developed,” Dolin said. “I suspect part of it is a lack of infrastructure. … The lack of sewer and water is a big problem.”

Hennessy agreed the town “does not have real strong infrastructure” for water, sewer and utilities, which could deter certain businesses from eyeing the town. He still believes the town is a desirable area.

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