Is Schoharie's Birchez finally ready to open?


By David Avitabile

Tenants may soon be moving into the controversial Birchez senior project in Schoharie.
A certificate of occupancy was issued on June 20 for the two smaller yellow cottage buildings on the parcel.
The CO is good for 90 days, according to village codes office Lloyd Stannard, There is a time limit because the project is not yet complete
He noted that the CO was issued on the advice of the town attorney Michael Breen.
Tenants should be able to move into the cottages shortly, according to Steve Aaron, project sponsor.
“It’s another step in the process,” he said Thursday afternoon.
There are 16 units in the cottages.
As of last week, he was still waiting for the state office of Housing and Community Renewal to do a final walk-through for the cottages. Once that is done and there is a final approval, then rents can be set and leases can be signed, Mr. Aaron added.
A certificate of substantial completion was expected within 24 hours, he said Thursday.
While the cottages near completion, work continues on the main building.
The carpets are still going down in the main building, according to Mr. Aaron.
The heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing are all done and have been tested and certified, he added. Most of the work to be done is “finishes,” he said, such as molding, and then the lobby floor, which should be installed next week.
Mr. Stannard said last week that he had not been in the main building for about three weeks but is planning to walk through for a pre-inspection soon.
He said that some work still had to be done in the main building.
In early October, Birchez officials said the cottages would be done by the end of that month and the main building would be done in November.
Schoharie Mayor John Borst sounded pleased with the progress Friday morning.
“It appears that Mr. Aaron is continuing with the construction of the project.”
Mr. Aaron expects the CO for the main building in the next few weeks.
While the buildings continue toward completion, a legal battle continues over control of the project.
Representatives from Bank of America went to the Ulster County Supreme Court last month to wrest control of the project.
The judge did not sign the order for them to take over the project.
A court hearing is scheduled for August 1 on the project.
An order to show cause and a temporary restraining order was signed by Judge James P. Gilpatric on June 14.
The action was filed by Birchez at Schoharie LP, Banc of America CDC special holding company against Schoharie Senior General Partner.
“Upon reading and filing the affidavit of Steve L. Aaron…ordered that sufficient reason having been shown. That pending the hearing and determination of this application, the plaintiff…its officers and agents, specifically including Mark C. Nightingale, are temporarily restrained from entering the site and project known as “Birches at Schoharie,” changing locks or otherwise interfering with the defendant’s contractors, subcontractors, employees, and/or agents…”
Mr. Aaron commented, “The court said ‘Keep working.”
He added, “It’s more important to get to done with all the delays.”
Mr. Nightingale was not available for comment.
When completed, the project will have 72 units for senior citizens.