GLENS FALLS -- The owner of Glens Falls Toyota is seeking a $180,000 property tax abatement to, in essence, reimburse him for replacing and rerouting a city storm sewer line on his property as part of a renovation and expansion project at the dealership.
“We are eager to find a resolution that accommodates all parties,” Howard Lebowitz, the owner, said during a presentation to the city Common Council on Tuesday.
Lebowitz said the city Planning Board in July, at the last minute, added a condition to their site plan approval that City Engineer Steve Gurzler must approve the sewer infrastructure component of the project.
Gurzler would not allow them to expand their structure over the top of a city-owned storm sewer line that crossed the 169 Broad St. property because it would limit access for the city to service or repair the line, Lebowitz said.
Lebowitz said that to avoid delaying the project, he paid the cost of replacing and rerouting the line, even though it was “an unreasonable demand” from the city.
The 4,000-square-foot expansion and renovation project, which is almost finished, includes a new customer waiting area, a drive-in bay for customers to drop off vehicles for service work and an indoor area for customers to pick up newly purchased vehicles.
The dealership also is adding two more lifts in the service area and renovating the exterior facade.
Jack Lebowitz, a lawyer for the dealership, proposed a tax abatement plan under which the dealership would pay local property taxes on the value of the property before improvements for five years, and then pay full property taxes going forward.
Under the proposed plan, the dealership would recoup its investment over five years.
Lebowitz said the infrastructure improvements the dealership made improve the city’s sewer system.
“This is a terra cotta pipe and it’s 50 years old. Pipes like that have been failing all over the city,” he said, referring to the line that was replaced. “This is an integral piece of a system that benefits the whole city.”
Jack Lebowitz said the dealership wants to avoid taking legal action against the city.
Mayor John “Jack” Diamond said city officials will consider the dealership’s request.
“We understand the importance of keeping Toyota in the city. We understand the importance of your employees,” he said.
Diamond said Gurzler was “looking out for the city’s welfare” by making sure the city continued to have access to service and repair infrastructure.
“We have every interest in trying to work with you. But I take it as an offense that you come up here and accuse us of being heavy-handed,” he said.