After reading [last week’s] article in the Times-Herald Record, headlined “Sullivan spars over food hub; most legislators oppose $110k deal,” I can only shake my head. The property they are “sparring” over is an approved lot in an industrial park that I own and developed at a cost of close to one million dollars. The property proposed by Legislator Alan Sorensen is a vacant lot across the street from mine, which is zoned for residential use and has no approvals for any development whatsoever.
When approached by the developer, Partnership for Economic Development and IDA, I offered the lot in my park at a price that was commensurate with the amount of planning and actual site work that I completed there. When that amount was too much for the project to work, I decided for the good of the county and the project, along with my lender, to accept half that amount. I felt I was helping the farmers and, at the same time, bringing exposure to a fully approved industrial park ready for tenants, for the good of my company as well as the county. They say no good deed goes unpunished. In this case, Sorensen, who has clearly shown he is averse to each and every project I propose, decided to offer a county-owned residential parcel directly across the street from my approved industrial park.
While at first blush this may seem to make sense, the property in question is not commercially zoned and has no engineering or approvals completed. It has not been cleared and has no drainage plan. My property, within an approved industrial park, does. I spent just under a million dollars on environmental studies, engineering, planning, site work and approvals. How many of our tax dollars is Sorensen willing to spend to engineer a property that is not zoned for this use, simply to hurt me and embarrass his colleagues? I urge his colleagues to investigate the real costs of moving to an un-engineered and unapproved site. I would suggest that the costs are far more than the purchase price of my lot. Either this group of legislators is truly unaware of the development process and its cost, or they would rather play politics than help our hardworking small farmers make a living.
Sorensen, by the way, is a tenant in a building I own, and have refused to sell to him. Since taking over the property that houses his office, he has opposed my plans at Apollo at every turn, even after telling those close to me that he supports it.
Regarding this proposal, as a “planner,” Sorensen should let professional judgment—not personal feelings toward his colleagues or me—influence his decision-making. When I spend my money, things get built, people get employed and taxes get paid. When Sorensen spends our tax money, we all lose. That is not conjecture. As the planning commissioner, he was instrumental in the design, planning and building of the Emerald Corporate Park. With only one tenant, the project is an abject failure, with the county-owned water company running at a loss each year. Since his corporate park opened, he has actively blocked other uses that would have provided taxes and jobs, that is until last week when he floated that property for the food hub. Members of the Rock Hill business community rightfully opposed it, and then he moved on to the property across the street from my park. While I can afford to not have tenants in my park, our county clearly can’t.
It’s a shame that Sorensen is willing to risk this needed project or spend more money just to stick it either to his opponents on the legislature or to me. Perhaps if it were his own money rather than ours, he would think differently.
[Butch Resnick is president and CEO of The Resnick Group, a Sullivan County development company.]