In May, Mark Steiner of Seaside, LLC, was pushing hard to have the state-owned land he has an agreement to buy designated as a "taxing district" within Waterford. At the time, his attorney, Joseph Vitale, argued that creating such a district would enable Steiner to apply for state and federal bonds.
"Without the creation of the taxing district, it is unlikely that anyone will see any gain," Vitale stated. "Rather, the property will continue to decay. My client wishes to avoid that result."
Yet now it seems the developer has had a change of heart.
Tonight, Steiner is expected to appear before Waterford's Board of Selectmen to withdraw his request that the land be made a taxing district. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Steiner's decision comes just before Waterford Town Attorney Robert Avena was due to give a report on the ramifications of creating such a district.
To grant Steiner's original request would have required an act of legislation that neither Waterford State Representative Betsy Ritter nor Senator Andrea Stillman were keen to rush through. Indeed, when Steiner asked both legislators if they would support it just weeks before the end of the last legislative session, Stillman and Ritter put on the brakes. They wrote to Waterford's elected officials urging them to do the same, warning that a taxing district could have "serious repercussions for the town."
If the Board of Selectmen acts to allow Steiner to withdraw his request, the findings of the committee established by the town to study the ramifications of creating a taxing district will be moot. Whether the predictions made by Steiner's own attorney will come true about what will happen without it, however, remains to be seen.