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Student housing faces short delay

The expiration of some provisions of state law governing industrial development agencies will cause no more than a slight delay in the approval of aid to a student housing project at Niagara County Community College, officials said Tuesday.

State legislators left Albany last week without extending some provisions of IDA law, including the section that allows such agencies to grant authority to not-for-profit entities, including colleges, to issue tax-exempt bonds to borrow money to pay for projects. The section expires Sunday.

NCCC is seeking $20 million worth of IDA bonding authority to pay for its first-ever student housing project.

Niagara County IDA attorney Mark J. Gabriele said Tuesday he had consulted with contacts in Albany and in the bonding business in New York City, and was told to expect the State Legislature to extend the provision quickly in a special session expected to start July 16.

"I share that optimism," said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane. "Everyone agrees this has to be done." He said the only disagreement between the Senate and the Assembly on the extension was over how long it should be.

Gabriele said the IDA, which held a public hearing on the housing project in May, would have voted by now if not for the fact that the Student Housing Village Corp., the not-for-profit entity NCCC set up to carry out the housing plan, hadn't received approval of its status as a tax-exempt entity.

But NCCC President James P. Klyczek said the Internal Revenue Service informed the college Monday that the corporation's tax-exempt status had been approved, and the actual documents proving it should be received shortly.

Klyczek said the housing plan is scheduled to be voted upon July 16 and 23 by the Cambria planning and zoning boards, following lengthy public hearings held Monday night.

He said the college had to move the site of the project slightly to avoid a wetland on the campus, and that impinged on an existing parking lot, raising concerns about traffic congestion on campus.

Klyczek said the college has options if the IDA can't help it. He said NCCC was approached months ago by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, which can authorize tax-exempt bonding. However, only the IDA can grant exemptions from mortgage recording taxes and sales taxes on construction materials, which the college also wanted.

"We're not trying to make money on the housing. We're just trying to make it as cheap as possible for students to rent the suites," Klyczek said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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