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My Notes on the Town Board Meeting May 20, 2013

My Notes on the Germantown Town Board Meeting of May 20, 2013

The meeting was called to order by Supervisor Roy Brown at 7:03 PM Attending were Mike Mortenson, Donald Westmore, Joel Craig and Joan Snyder.  Town Clerk, Charlene Diehl was present also.

The minutes of the previous meeting and the approval of the month’s Audited bills were passed unanimously.  There were no communications to the Board from the Town Clerk.

Department Reports:

Highway Department: Rich Jennings  reviews the activities of the past month.  Clearing culverts, catch basins, mowing  has  started, Shoulders and ditching has been completed on Best lane Old Saw Mill Road, Lasher Avenue, etc. Oil and sand applications will begin soon.  Rich discusses the issues with the 23year old backhoe, which has begun to have major repair problems. He has been checking dealers for replacement equipment and has come down to his choice of Caterpillar as the most reliable and the one that offered the most accessories along with it.  After some discussion the Board Roy recommended approval but asked if Rich could seek a lower interest rate from Caterpillar, which he agreed to do.

Sewer Department:  George Sharpe Jr. reported that the average flow was 20,000 gallons per day in the past month.  He had 17 dig requests, primarily from the County, which was doing some work in the town.

Maintenance/Park Department:  Anthony Cidras reports that all grills picnic tables are in place, water turned on.  Working on flowerbeds, mowing, weed eating (lots!).  All the excess HAZMAT materials from the new LED light installations have been removed.  The energy Audit company identified four specific areas, which were not included by Nat. Grid, and the Board voted to approve getting those areas upgraded.  Anthony advised that there was a discovery of an electric pole that had been billing excessive amounts of the past years.  It was discovered that there was a house hooked up tot he pole –it was Nat Grid’s mistake in installation so the town will get a sizeable refund. He is working on the Lake, monitoring, etc.  He will be ordering grass carp to eat algae from the lake and we have Koi who eat the mille foil and the duckweed (invasive plants).  There will be applications of various products to clarify the pond as well.  It had been determined that there will be no swimming at the lake this years.  Now will there be any swimming program this year.  The Town was unsuccessful in finding another location to bus children to that was economically feasible. Even so, the pond is getting cleaner.  “If someone fell n right now they would be safer than in last year”. When they were using various chemical solutions to try to clear the Lake.

Police Department:   Roger Rekow:

There were 187.25 hours patrolled in the previous month.  Among the activities were: 1 arrest warrant, 1EID (Alarm) response, 2 civil matters, 2 marijuana complaints, 1 obstruction of justice 2 court transfers, 2 assist EMS, 2 criminal activities, 21 traffic tickets, 27 warnings.  Visits to Parks: Anchorage: 36, Cheviot: 37,Schools: 30, Palatine Park; 35 and Dales Bridge: 20.

Joel brings up the issue of the purchase of the two AR-15 rifles.  He asks Brian Dubois to comment on the guns.  Brian introduces a Hudson Police officer, Randy Clark, an FBI-certified trainer, who made a brief presentation about the guns; The AR-15 is a simple and affordable weapon. It is a technological upgrade featuring a longer range of fire and is quite accurate.  He cites the ease of training for the weapon. The training features 4 to 8 hours of class work and then the range practice.

Joel mentions the change in police policy in dealing with and “active Shooter’ which might require our police officer to engage the shooter before backup arrives, therefore making an AR-15 important to the police officer’s self defense as well as being effective against the shooter.  Joel introduces his motion to withhold deployment of the weapons until the police are completely trained and certified to be trained and the policy manual is updated as necessary. Don Westmore expresses his concern that there had not been enough discussion among the Board or with the public and suggested an alternate motion but did not have the support from other Board members.  Motion passed.

Committee Reports:  Economic Development:  Corrine Curry reports:  The Committee has sent a letter tot he Board requesting that the Zoning Law be changed to increase the “Mixed use” designation further east along Main Street as far as Hover Avenue. [The text of this letter appears at the end of the meeting notes.]  After brief discussion the Board generally agrees and will address the Planning Board to begin the process, which will include a Public Hearing if the Planning Board agrees.

Park Commission:  Andrea Dunn and Brittany DuFresne;  both address the Board. They are planning a Community Picnic at the end of July.  It would include a 5K race in the morning and music and games in the afternoon. They will encourage local organizations to participate and even sell food, drinks, if they are so inclined. But this will not be a Festival” it will be a Community Picnic.

Sidewalk Committee:  Final meeting and resolution has been accomplished with the last landowner as far as right-of-way goes.  Will submit to DOT and await the final approval. Bids will be put out as soon as approval comes. The box culvert will be replaced this year, says Roy.

History Department: Sue Raab reports: She thanks the town for its assistance in several ways.  They now have their Visual Display installed.  She urges folks to drop in on Saturdays from 9AM to Noon. They also have items from the excavation that has been done around the foundations of the old building. She is seeking grants to enable them to continue their connection with the School system.

Old Business

There are still vacancies on the Planning Board, ZBA and the Ethics Committee.

Charlene Diehl reads a lengthy resolution from the County exempting local Planning boards from having to submit certain applications to the Columbia County Planning office for approval.  It is a long, detailed list and too long to replicate here but can be found online on the County’s website.  Board votes All Aye

Roy says that they checked around for any reasonable way, including transporting to other sites,  to rig up a swimming program for this year but failed to find any suitable solution.

New Business:  Department Annual Reports are coming in to the Supervisor.  There were two reports—one from each of the Town Judges.  Board votes all Aye to approve the reports.

Supervisor’s Report:

May 28th , Tuesday, will be the day for grievance of Tax assessments.  From 2PM to 4PM and from 6PM to 8PM.  Town hall.

Park brochures for Summer Programs are out and available.  They are also in the town’s website. This will include the medical forms, necessary for enrollment that can be downloaded.

Roy asks for the Board to approve the approximately $4,000.00 to purchase the two new Welcome to Germantown signs that will be installed on Rt 9G at Maple avenue and at Main street.  They will reflect the dark green and gold signs elsewhere in town. All vote Aye.

Roy advises that the Financial Audit is nearing completion.  The town responded to several questions the Auditing Company had and now the draft report will be presented to the Town, if not next month, then the following month.

Residents are reminded of two upcoming events:  the Memorial Day Parade on Monday from 9AM beginning at and a 10AM finish at the Cemetery.

The Hudson Valley Apple Festival is scheduled for September 21st at Palatine Park.

 School Board election and approval of the 2013-14 budget will be voted on Tuesday May 21st from noon until 9 PM at the school.  [ED. Note: Budget was passed, Tammi Kellenbenz won the place on the Board of Education]

Roy has learned that the Fire Pond dam is in disrepair and will need some renovation to keep it safe.  The Town is looking to find out what needs to be done and will decide what action to take as soon as possible.

Roy advises that Ellen Epstein had made efforts to secure some grant money to replace some trees that have been lost in the town. The Town has received $1,500.00 for that purpose.  Roy asks the Board to scrape up an additional $1,000 to add to the fund so that they can get several good=sized trees to plant.  Recommended native trees are Pin Oaks and Red Oaks.  The Board was agreeable.  All Aye.

Public comments      

Kay Abraham spoke; She expressed her disappointment with the continuation of the gun purchase with certification as the only criteria to begin using the rifles.  She said she felt there was another level of training that should be provided, and that was emotional training to help officers cope with the decisions to use or not use the guns in any given case.  When there is a hostage situation usually the successful results come when there is a specially trained team.  And it’s often not successful when one of two police engage the shooter –either resulting in loss of life of the hostage or the police, even if the shooter is killed.  The most violent crime likely in this small town is domestic violence and it didn’t seem to her that an AR-15 would be the ideal weapon for such and encounter.

Dorothy Montague spoke. She was unhappy that such a vote was taken without hearing for the public when it had such an impact on residents. She had written a letter to the Editor of the Columbia Paper regarding their front-page article about “Germantown Buys Assault-style Guns for Police” in which she outlined her concerns. She felt that none of her concerns about public safety in Germantown were addressed by the Board. There are many in Germantown who do not support the purchase of these guns for the Police, and there is scant opportunity for residents to be informed about this decision. She felt it was poor publicity for the town when we are trying to attract new businesses and homeowners .

Dick Montague spoke.  He said he has a firm belief that arming the town won’t help us. Training is not enough to develop the judgment needed for these decisions.  He thinks that the issue needs more consideration before voting for more artillery.

Corrine Curry spoke.  What other towns around here have these rifles?  Voices in the audience assured her that others do, indeed. Roger Rekow answers her: There is more than jus the 6 to 8 hours of training and the range work.  The same requirement for training is true for all types of firearms. Roger says the AR-15 is not a “high powered “ rifle.  Dorothy asks, “ What happens if an innocent bystander is injured?  Will there be an increase in the cost of Liability Insurance for the Town” Roy says it is the same insurance across the board for any firearm.

Corrine Curry urges the Town to hold a public forum.

Kay Abraham asks, “Do the police have bullet proof vests?”  Answer: “Yes”.

Andrea Dunn speaks.  She has been in active military duty and is very familiar with this weapon.  She says it is very accurate and is not configured to be an automatic –it requires a pull of the trigger for every shot. She wants the Police to have food weapons. She says this rifle is not as scary as you think an “assault weapon is”. It is more accurate than a shotgun and does not have the spread-out pattern as a shotgun has, so it’s more effective than a shotgun when there are innocents nearby. And, she said, the AR-15 is not designed to send bullets through the “target” and on into the next room or another person.

Mike Mortenson said that the Board members has thought deeply about the issue and had talked to a lot of other people before coming to this decision.

No other speakers rose and the meeting was adjourned at 9:25PM

To the best of my note-taking ability.

Kay Abraham

537-5404

Additions and corrections welcomed.

Letter from Economic Development Committee to the Town Board re Zoning Change:

Roy Brown, Supervisor

Town of Germantown

50 Palatine Park Road

Germantown, NY 12526

To Supervisor Brown and Town Council Members:

Joel Craig, Joan Snyder, Don Westmore and Michael Mortenson

On behalf of the Germantown Economic Development Committee we, the undersigned, request   the Town Board consider and approve an important modification of  the current Town of Germantown Zoning map by extending the HAMLET MIXED USE designation.  We seek to have this designation extended from its current meet point, at the intersection of Church Avenue and Main Street,  and continue east on Main Street  to Hover Avenue (currently designated as HAMLET RESIDENTIAL).

The lands currently owned by John McGrath on the south side of Main Street and Hover Avenue and the lands currently owned by Zenya Leary on the northwest side of intersection of Main Street and Hover Avenue would be the last parcels designated HAMLET MIXED USE per this extension request.

The Committee believes this extension is warranted and economically beneficial to the Town of Germantown. There is ample historic evidence that many of the parcels which would be included in this extension were once owned and operated as small family owned businesses. These same locations can easily be converted to low impact small businesses once again if provided the opportunity to do so under the permitted uses listed as HAMLET MIXED USE in the ZONING ORDINANCE.   We believe that there may be greater opportunity for economic growth in this Main Street extension east of the hamlet than there is west of the hamlet.

We sincerely hope this request finds favor with the Town Board and Planning Board. The economic stability of our community rests with the establishment and growth of small businesses. This minor extension of HAMLET MIXED USE will provide that opportunity for residents to establish such businesses in a location where businesses once thrived in our small community.

Sincerely,

Bruce Bohnsack   , Co-Chair                    Corinne Curry, Co-Chair

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