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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 9, 2009

Town mulls tax breaks for historic barn restorations

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Old barns may get new life as the town board here considers enacting a law that would give a tax break to those who restore or rebuild them.

The law would prevent a tax increase if the rehabilitation resulted in an increase of assessed value. A hearing on the bill will be held May 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

Everett Rau, Guilderland resident, agricultural historian, and member of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society, said, “That sounds like an excellent idea to me.” Rau currently has three historic barns on his Settles Hill property.

Supervisor Kenneth Runion said that this bill is coming to the forefront now because, with the state of the economy, people are looking for ways to improve their properties, but are often afraid of tax increases due to increased assessment values. “We’re looking for ways to help residents with assessment issues,” said Runion.

Not only would the law benefit town residents, it would help with the town budget, according to Runion. “I asked the assessor for a list of various items that would deal with construction,” he said. “Construction would spur economic development. It would provide jobs, and help with sales and mortgage taxes.”

In addition to the public hearing on tax exemptions for historic barns, there will also be public hearings to discuss potential exemptions, by local law, for home improvements to residential buildings, and improvements on small commercial business buildings. Both hearings will also take place at the town board meeting on May 5.

Several barns have been rebuilt or rehabilitated in Guilderland in recent years, Runion said. According to Rau, there are still at least 25 to 30 other historic barns in “saveable condition” within the town.

“I think this is a timely discussion, because the barns that need to be fixed only have another five to seven years before they fall to the ground or create a fire hazard,” said Rau.

The exemption would be phased in over the next 10 years, said Runion, and the barns to be rehabilitated would need to meet certain criteria in order to qualify. Some requirements include being partially constructed before 1936, and being originally designed for storing farm equipment, agricultural products, or livestock.

“I think the town would benefit from having its monuments to the early pioneers rebuilt,” said Rau. “It seems like progressive thinking to create a law to preserve the great history we already have in this town.”

Other business

In other business, the town board unanimously voted to:

— Adopt a workplace violence and prevention policy for town employees. Runion said the town’s insurers requested the policy;

— Accept a utilities, sewer, and water infrastructure plan for a portion of Stonebriar Drive and Tanner Circle in Saddlebrook subdivision;

— Waive building permit fees at 5236 Bridle Pathway due to damage sustained by fire;

— Authorize Runion to sign Collector’s Warrant for Guilderland Water District; and,

— Authorize Runion to execute memorandum of understanding with Albany County for receipt of grant funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.

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