Friday, 05 May 2023 17:44

OP ED: Fulton Mayor Stresses Critical Importance of Rezoning on Pending DRI Projects

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City of Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels City of Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels Submitted photo

The folowing is an opinion article written by Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels:

Over the past several months, I’ve fielded many questions related to progress on our DRI projects. The one I respond to most frequently is: “When will we see some of these projects become reality?”

Our city and our DRI committee, who represent a cross-section of our residents with different perspectives and levels of expertise, has worked diligently to pare down the list, seek NY State approvals, and help the businesses and individuals line up their plans and financing. Some of those projects, like the $2.7 million upgrade to our marina and Canal Commons, as well as further trail development, will start this year. And we’re all excited for the Rt. 481 gateway paving and improvements to be completed this summer. Some projects, however, that will show rapid, positive, visible improvements in our city and swell our pride, are being held hostage to a long and arduous debate over re-zoning.

Our Fulton Common Council is facing a critical vote on re-zoning in the near future that will determine if a number of projects move forward, or are stalled by misinformation, political agendas, or those afraid of change.

Rezoning Bldg. 30: What It Means To Fulton
The planned redevelopment of the former Nestle site’s Building 30 as residential units will not move forward unless the entire DRI corridor is re-zoned from Manufacturing to Mixed Use.

Regardless of what anyone would like to see developed in that building, the rezoning has to happen for anything to be built or renovated.

Construction Design and Management, (CDM), Syracuse owns the building, has had their plan approved by the state and Fulton’s DRI Local Planning Committee, wants to make these improvements and is making every effort to continue a dialogue and listen to ideas, but they can’t do it without our help and support.

Another reason this is so pivotal, is that a number of other projects in our DRI corridor that have already been approved and allocated funding cannot move forward until this re-zoning is approved.

Businesses that applied for this funding in good faith last summer are still waiting.
Waiting to install new signage, awnings, and building façade improvements, that will have an immediate impact and bolster our city pride.

Oswego Health has plans ready to go for a multi-million-dollar expansion in health services right across the street from Building 30. This includes the demolition of the eyesore that is the “green monster” storage building on Rt. 481 followed by new construction and expansion of their Fulton campus. These are stalled and held hostage by this delay.

Other projects delayed because of this are the new, fast casual restaurant across from Huhtamaki, the Case-Lee House Inn and Café on S. First St., and more.

The longer we debate, delay and linger on this issue, the quicker we’ll see interest by developers in our city evaporate like the fog on Lake Neahtahwanta. Do you think potential investors will even consider the Nestle’ site for additional development if they see how our divisions or politics are keeping us from uniting and moving forward? They’ll think: “Why waste time and money going down that road?”

Apart from our own plans for development, Fulton is in a strong position to capitalize on the opportunities presented by Micron’s investment in our area. As Fultonians, we’ve got to look at the big picture and grab Fulton’s piece of the pie.

Fulton’s location, educational and industrial base, housing stock and continuing housing development make us a prime location for Micron’s needs while mutually benefiting our city. We are a great place to live, work and raise our families. We can be the bedroom community for those thousands of people who will be employed by Micron—but we’ve got to be ready and welcoming. It’s in all our best interests to find ways to partner with Micron and to help those who want to invest in our city find the paths of least resistance to explore opportunities.

Stop and think.

Fulton is closer to Micron than our northern neighbor on Lake Ontario. It’s only 15 minutes to the site from here. Do we as Fultonians want the majority of investment by Micron in Oswego County to go north of us or stop at the northern Onondaga County line because “Fulton wasn’t willing to work with us,” or “Fulton makes it hard to do business there?”

We will see some signs of progress in our DRI efforts this year, but we’ll only see the full effect and flood of improvements if we come together to find consensus and re-zone the Building 30 area.

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