Responding to Growth

Beacon council to consider trees, water, condos

By Jeff Simms

The Beacon City Council will hold a public hearing at its Monday, March 5, meeting and may also vote on a proposal for taxing converted condominiums at their market — rather than rental — value.

The hearing will allow the public to weigh in on a draft law that would increase the penalty for property owners who remove trees without a permit.

After several weeks of discussion, the council has opted to stick with the existing law for tree removal — property owners must have a permit to take down three or more mature (6-inch diameter) trees within a 100-foot proximity per year. But the proposed law would increase the penalty for violators from a $250 fine per incident to $350 per tree.

The law also would allow Beacon Mayor Randy Casale to create a five-person Tree Committee that would meet when requested by the mayor or the city’s building inspector. The committee would include an arborist and a member of the Conservation Advisory Committee.

Condo values

The council on Monday will also consider how the city assesses converted condominiums for tax purposes.

State law instructs municipalities to assess owner-occupied condominiums at their estimated rental value, not their market value, which is often higher.

As high-dollar rental apartments are built in Beacon, the proposed law would restrict those units, if they are ever converted to condo, from receiving a so-called “condo exemption” that could allow the owner to pay lower taxes than the owner of a stand-alone house.

The city is seeking clarification from the state on how all condos, converted or not, are assessed, but Monday’s vote only applies to conversions. If adopted, Beacon would become the first municipality in New York to revise its condo assessment laws.

There are 82 condos in Beacon, with about 40 more under construction.

Water studies

The council will hold a special workshop at 7 p.m. on March 14 to discuss studies conducted over the last several months by the Water and Sewer Department.

The city adopted a six-month building moratorium in September after being told that Beacon’s water supply could be strained if its population continues to grow. The moratorium expires this month.

Beacon officials have been trying to pinpoint the maximum population that the city’s water infrastructure can support while also looking for additional sources.

The results of the studies, which have not yet been released, will determine whether the council could extend the moratorium. A building moratorium typically must be lifted if remedial action has addressed the underlying issue — in this case, water.

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