The Northern Westchester Examiner

Yorktown Establishes Board to Study Incentives for Commercial Growth

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The Yorktown Town Board voted unanimously last week to establish a volunteer Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board.

Supervisor Michael Grace explained the purpose of the board was to explore incentives to help revitalize the commercial and industrial tax base in Yorktown. A second component of the plan, which will require a separate Town Board vote, will be the implementation of a tax abatement program.

Grace said several people have “shied away” from renovating commercial space in town because such upgrades would increase the assessment and taxes.

“This gives fledgling new businesses a better chance to make it and thrive,” Grace maintained.

The initiative received widespread support from several former town officials, including former supervisors Aaron Bock and Susan Siegel and ex-Councilman Tony Grasso.

Grasso noted 78% of property taxes in Yorktown are paid by residential property owners, while Bock said the incentives could help reverse the trend of commercial office space being difficult to rent.

Siegel said she favored anything that would encourage commercial development and renovation of existing businesses as long as it was compatible with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, but she questioned the need for tax breaks and who would be appointed to the board, emphasizing it should be non-partisan members.

“Let’s not give away potential tax revenue if it’s not needed,” Siegel said. “50% of something is better than 100% of nothing, but if we’re able to get 100%, why give away 50%? We’re not dealing with a field of dreams. If we reduce taxes they won’t come.”

Bob Giordano, founder of the Yorktown Small Business Association, said he was in full support of the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board and threw his name in to be considered as one of the five members.

Referring to the Yorktown Heights Business Hamlet, Giordano said, “We need to maximize the potential for commercial, industrial and retail businesses using the existing zoning and building foot prints. Rather than wait for a property owner to come to us, we should be knocking on their doors.”

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