Every week I get calls and emails from a couple of dozen folks looking for property, across the gamut from country getaways, lakefront houses, inexpensive primary homes, foreclosures, cottage colonies and camps, small parcels of raw land, and large acreage pieces. It's the blessing of having good search engine positioning, and website with lots of…Details
The PA DEP, which has been widely criticized for failing to adequately regulate gas drilling in Pennsylvania, seems to finally be getting tough with Cabot Oil and Gas over the contaminated water wells in Dimock. The PA DEP wants Cabot to pick up the $12 million tab to run a public water line to the…Details
Back in the spring, there was a lot of hubbub about Alliance Energy selling its Sullivan County reservoirs (including Swinging Bridge and Toronto reservoirs) and hydro generating capacity to a NJ private equity firm, Hudson Energy (via a subsidiary, Eagle Creek Hydro.) The last mention in the local paper was in late May, when the CEO of Eagle Creek indicated he hoped the sale would be complete by the end of summer.
This morning I started wondering what happened. The technical end of summer is just a day away. Did Eagle Creek close on the sale? Has Alliance ridden off into the sunset, hopefully carrying the bad will it's sown over its short period of ownership of the reservoirs with it?
The sale right now is in the hands of FERC, the Federal Enmergy Regulatory Commission, that has to approve the transfer of the hydro operating licenses to the new owner. I spent a couple of hours on the FERC website, reading through the dozens of filings related to the transfer. You gotta love America, where all this stuff is public and available online. If Eagle Creek expected smooth sailing and a quick approval, they aren't getting it.
A lot of the filings and comments deal with more technical aspects of the license transfer, like ownership structure, operating experience, compliance with dam operating regulations and the status of repairs. But a significant portion of the comments from third parties relate to the recreational use of the reservoirs, particularly maintaining sufficient water levels to support public recreation, and ensuring public access to Toronto Reservoir at a second point near the dam. The reason that these items are coming up in a FERC license proceeding is that enabling recreational use and public access are required by the license terms.
Commenters chiming on on the license application include the county, Congressman Hinchey, Friends of Toronto, Home Owners on Toronto, Swinging Bridge Homeowners Association and Woodstone Development, the developer of the Chapin Estate. These commenters are asking FERC to hold the licensee's nose to the grindstone — whether Alliance, the current licensee or Eagle Creek, the proposed licensee — to comply with its license and maintain sufficient water levels for safe recreational use. Most of the commenters also want FERC to require the licensee to ensure a second public access point to Toronto Reservoir, a public sore spot since Woodstone closed off the access road across its lands.
All of these third parties seem to be in agreement that this license process is the opportunity to finally force some type of agreement about minimum water levels on Swinging Bridge and Toronto, something that's been unattainable during the Alliance tenure.
It's quite interesting to read through the filings and comments. (OK, maybe not as gripping as a John Grisham novel, but I like this kind of stuff.) The most eye opening have been the comments from Woodstone, the developer of Chapin. Woodstone was widely demonized in the public eye when it blocked off the second access point to Toronto near the dam. But reading Woodstone's comments to the application, particularly this Supplemental Comment submitted Sept. 10th paints a somewhat different and more sympathetic picture. It appears that Woodstone has been repeatedly trying to bring Alliance to the table to work out a water level agreement, and has been using the access issue as the bargaining chip to do so. Of course, guaranteeing recreational water levels long term on the reservoirs greatly benefits Wooddstone and the Chapin homeowners. But it also benefits the public, who, just like the Chapin homeowners, weren't able to motorboat on Toronto for most of the 2009 boating season because of the severe drawdown by Alliance.Details
Sullivan County is one of those places where single votes can make a difference. Races here, particularly at the township or schol board level, are sometimes won or lost by as few as a few dozen votes. Particularly over the next year, with gas drilling gaining momentum as an issue, some of the upcoming elections…Details
If you've driven almost anywhere around Sullivan County recently, you've surely seen these "No Frack" signs sprouting up in front of houses like mushrooms in a cow field after a rainstorm. They're even showing up in parts of the county that are unlikely to see much impact from gas drilling if it actually approved for…Details
The September Current Market Conditions Report is posted, with sales data through August. A mixed picture this month. The overall single family home sales price as reported in the Sullivan MLS for the 3 month period ending Aug. 31 is sharply higher. But the sales volume continues to be, well, 'tepid' would be a charitable…Details
The road from an accepted offer to a closing is a rough one. It takes a lot of perserverence and skill to keep a deal together in this market. I've blogged a number of times about sellers needing to bring asking prices in line to appeal to very value conscious buyers. Slowly but surely that's…Details
I've been AWOL from this blog for the past couple of weeks. I've been super busy working with buyers. It's like a fire hydrant opened, with the calls and emails and requests for appointments. A bit of a surprise, actually, as the couple of weeks going into Labor Day tend to be slow becuase people…Details
In light of the dismal national real estate numbers, a lot of readers of this blog may be shocked the Sullivan County numbers this month (which I'll post on my Current Market Conditions report in early Sept.) Unless there's a tsunami of closings in the next week, the sales volume numbers are going to be…Details
The National Association of Realtors just released the Existing Home Sales (EHS) data for July. The numbers even made my jaw drop. Nationally, existing home ssales fell 27.2% in July over June, and are down 25.5% from July 2009. The picture was even a bit more dismal in the northeast, where July sales were off…Details
Thanks everybody for checking. It's working now! Hi, all, I went in to add a comment to one of my posts (which I do the same way readers of this blog do — go to the post and add a comment on the bottom.) The Post and Preview buttons are grayed out and won't 'push'.…Details
I go back and forth about ditching my telephone landline. A landline always seems to work, even when there's a power outage, like there was yesterday at my house. Relying on only a cell phone at my house is problematic, because I live in a cell "shadow" and have to use a cell booster to…Details
I no longer shop at Target. I’m asking my friends and colleagues to stop shopping at this hypocritical pseudo-hip retailer as well. Target has promoted itself as the style, fashion and design discount retailer, with a liberal tilt. It makes donations to community organizations, pays lip service to equality with pro-gay employment practices, and stages…Details
I finally caught a breath and finished the August Current Market Conditions Report. This month's figures are going to red meat for the market bears. The average single family home sales price reported in the Sullivan MLS for the 3 month period ending July 31, 2010 (hey, how's that for a long descriptor for a…Details
I always try to get the Current Market Conditions Report finished and posted by the 12th or 13th of the month. But this month it ain't happenin'. I've been slammed busy the past couple of weeks, with back to back appointments last weekend and this weekend. That's a blessing I'm not complaining about in this…Details
The DIY Network's Blog Cabin tv show took on renovating a dated ranch house in Bethel for its 2010 season. Work on the project has been underway all spring, and the results are pretty dramatic. The results air in a 7 part series, starting Thursday Aug. 19th at 10PM and running through Sept. 30th. For…Details
There must be a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines. I would venture that about half the potential buyers that have called me recently say they're looking to pay 'all cash' (meaning they won't need a mortgage.) While paying cash certainly streamlines the purchase process, most all cash buyers have the expectation that by…Details
In an unexpected move, in the wee morning hours yesterday the New York State Senate approved a moratorium on the issuance of any permits for gas drilling in the state using horizontal hydrofracking until May 15, 2011. The vote was 48 yea, 9 nay, an overwhelming bipartisan showing. The moratorium bill now needs to go…Details
A local Realtor yesterday told me about a scam being run on Craigslist involving a home she has listed for sale on Swinging Bridge. The scammers put a post on Craigslist indicating the house is available as a short term vacation rental at a very attractive price. Included is a photo of the home lifted…Details
New second home buyers from the city, particularly if they're not that familiar with "upstate", often want to cover way too much ground on a single trip. It's understandable. People have busy schedules and it can be tough to carve out time to go house shopping. And if you're schlepping two hours up and two…Details