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COMIDA leader defends board’s decision to veto tax breaks for Westport Crossing project

By: Kevin Oklobzija//August 17, 2023

COMIDA leader defends board’s decision to veto tax breaks for Westport Crossing project

By: Kevin Oklobzija//August 17, 2023//

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The executive director of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency is defending the board’s decision to deny tax incentives for a multifamily residential development in Pittsford.

Pittsford Canalside Properties, LLC, in an Article 78 petition filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Monroe County, alleged that a conflict of interest by COMIDA member Joseph Alloco — along with his influence on other board members —  led to the denial of project tax incentives for Westport Crossing.

In a 4-3 vote back in May, the COMIDA board turned down the developer’s request for a 10-year tax abatement in the form of a PILOT agreement, as well as sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions. The total incentive package had a value of $7.8 million.

Westport Crossing, a creation of Mark IV Enterprises of Rochester, has a total price tag of $53 million. The proposed development calls for construction of 156 residential units as well as a restaurant, dock, canal path and park space.

Ana Liss, the executive director of COMIDA, said in a prepared statement released this afternoon that the board was well within its right to deny incentives.

“When members of the COMIDA Board of Directors, each independently appointed by the president of the Monroe County Legislature, vote against a project, it may be because they do not agree that the project should be eligible for tax incentives,” Liss said. “That is their individual prerogative, and other projects have been voted down in the past.

“COMIDA’s powers granted by New York State statute are very powerful in Monroe County in influencing economic development projects, many of which would not happen without property tax abatements, sales and use tax exemptions, and mortgage recording tax exemptions.

“The seven members of our Board are entitled and expected to use their individual judgment when casting votes. These appointees take many important factors into consideration when granting tax breaks on behalf of Monroe County taxpayers, such as support of the taxing jurisdictions and citizens of that jurisdiction. Our Board also considers matters of equity and the economic merits of any given project.”

Westport Crossing has faced a multitude of hurdles over the past decade or more, including a battery of lawsuits from citizens and the municipality, as well as intense scrutiny from village zoning and planning boards.

The legal action, with an affidavit signed by Mark IV president Chris DiMarzo, contends Alloco was required to recuse himself from voting because of his ownership and/or management of five apartment communities within six miles of the proposed development site.

Liss, however, defended Alloco’s character and service to COMIDA.

“I stand by the integrity of Joe Alloco, a member of COMIDA’s Board of Directors who is named in the Article 78 petition and in subsequent media coverage,” Liss said. “I also stand by the integrity of our entire board, who act with utmost transparency, fairness, and ethical standards in their volunteer positions. We look forward to addressing this complaint with factual information.”

[email protected]/(585) 653-4020


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