GOSHEN—The county will no longer be selling land around its Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation after longtime Goshen Town Board Member and now County Legislator, Phil Canterino (R,C,I–Goshen) convinced fellow legislators that selling would not be in the Town or County’s best interest.
In his state of the county address in March, County Executive Steven Neuhaus pitched a plan to sell or lease about 10 acres of open land around Valley View for two assisted living facilities and a medical facility that would put the land back on the tax roles.
He proposed a law that would create a committee to vet prospective developers with the option to lease or sell the land.
Canterino said that while the Town, which surrounds the property, would be okay with development there, if the property were sold to a company that became a non-profit, that land would again be off the tax rolls because nonprofits do not have to pay property taxes.
With leasing, if the tenant did become a non-profit, the county would still be able to charge the equivalent of the taxes for the land.
And, possibly more importantly, the county would have control over what kinds of businesses go there.
“If it is sold, it can be sold, resold, resold and the county has no say in what will surround Valley View, so everybody was totally on board with this [agreement to lease],” Canterino said.
While lawmakers may be in agreement, legislation to advance the plan is not going to move forward anytime soon because of some gaps in the planning.
The first is that when they went to fill out the Environmental Impact Form (EIF), one of the questions asked is if the use of the land was in line with the comprehensive plan, both short and long term, for the area. Because there was no comprehensive plan, that question could not be answered.
The other problem is that legislators did not look at the water and sewer capacity of the site, which is pivotal for any new development.
Valley View currently gets its water from the Village of Florida, but the village was never asked if it had the capacity to supply more, nor how much.
“I think everyone was doing this for the right reason,” Canterino said. “But I think it hadn’t been thought out far enough down the line.”
Selling Valley View
Some speculated that the proposed sale or lease of the land was a further attempt to privatize Valley View, an issue that split the legislature down mostly partisan lines last year, and ended in a state judge ruling that the county could not.
“Some people perceive that this is a slippery slope,” Canterino said. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist … but you have to think of everything.”
While the county was looking at the proposal for purely economic reasons, Valley View Commissioner Laurence LaDue said he was in favor of it as well, especially if they could control what businesses go in.
“As long as it compliments the services that Valley View offers,” he said. “It would be good for a continuum of care.”
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