Friday, April 13, 2007

Town Board April Meeting News

My apologies for neglecting this space. I'm going to do better.

Last night's town board meeting was long and crammed with ideas and actions. Based on my meager one and a third years of experience, I wonder if meeting length is correlated with daylight hours. We had many long meetings last summer but winter meetings ended at reasonable times.

The meeting opened with a public hearing on Advanced Design Consulting's proposed development across Route 13 from TC3. The hearing seems poorly timed because ADC's plans are incomplete and not much information has been available to the public. ADC designs, engineers and produces "precision robotics, sub-micron positioning systems, and optical subsystems to enhance the capabilities and productivity of its customers' manufacturing, engineering, and research applications." I admit I have only the vaguest concept of Precision robotics and optical subsystems and absolutely no concept of sub-micron positioning systems. But the point is that ADC doesn't fit the smoke belching, high truck traffic image of manufacturing. They make a relatively small number of very expensive, highly specialized machines.

The owner of The Book Barn, adjacent to the proposed development, expressed strong opinions about preserving the neighborhood character. We'll have to look seriously at that, but I hope we'll find that the project is suitable 'cause it seems like a good business development for that part of the town if business development is desirable at all. The Zoning Office and the Planning Board have been working with ADC on and off for a long while. I'm pretty confident that their work will result in a successful project.

Todd Miller made a fabulous presentation about the USGS study of the Virgil Aquifer.

Highway Superintendent Jack Bush, reported on plans to replace a grader. Bids have been received and the lowest is higher than the estimate we approved. But another piece of equipment recently replaced was significantly under budget and the difference covers the additional cost of the grader. Jack also reports that our thirty-five year old bulldozer is sadly in need of $11,000 repairs. We discussed the fact that the department is less involved in highway construction than it was thirty-five years ago and accepted Jack's recommendation that we sell the bulldozer and not replace it. Jack thinks, and I agree, that for the number of hours we use a bulldozer, it's more economical to rent one as needed than to own one.

In further good news from the Highway Department, the request to lower the speed limit on Baker Hill road was accepted! It will now be posted at 40 MPH.

The briefing from County Legislators included information on an Open House April 25 at 6:00 at the Village Hall to present information from the Route 13 Corridor Study.

Attorney Perkins and Zoning Officer Kevin Ezell reported on communication with six owners of unsafe structures. Four of them are dealing with removing or repairing the structures. Two have not responded to notices from the Zoning Office and will now be notified that if they do not respond, the town will arrange for the structures to be removed and the cost will be added to their tax bills.

Perkins also reported that the Dryden Ambulance Contract has finally been sent and the Etna Fire Department contract has been modified to include, with restrictions, the $40,000 reserved in the budget and a public hearing will be held 4/19/07 at 6:00 at the Village Hall.

Zoning Officer Henry Slater, described progress on plans for furnishing the new town hall. Henry also asked the Board to designate someone to review training requirements for Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals members. I agreed to do that on behalf of the Board.

Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski, reports that six proposals for consulting on the zoning ordinance update were received and are being reviewed by the Planning Board. (This was a record short report from Dan.)

Councilperson David Makar asked the Finance Committee to review samples of annual reports from other towns and formulate a process for producing a similar report for the Town of Dryden. Such a report would go a long way in making town information available to the public. Along the same line, Supervisor Trumbull again brought up the idea of a Town Newsletter. We repeatedly agree that this is a good idea. But once again fall short of finding a point person to make it actually happen.

We finally approved the establishment of clerical positions - one for the Zoning Office and one for the Supervisor's office. Face it, the town is growing. There's more and more work to do. And we don't want staff members earning professional salaries to be spending their time on clerical tasks.

Discussion of a Board Liaison to the Court was postponed 'til next month when, presumably, Councilperson Christofferson will be back.

We discussed, again, handling of the Cayuga Press HUD economic development loan. Cayuga Press's recent move to Cortland triggers default conditions for the loan. The town has the option of calling the loan or extending it. We finally decided to extend the loan to at least April 2008 and increase the interest rate. Meanwhile, we'll be looking for other possible applicants for economic development loans. When we find a good opportunity for economic development in the Town of Dryden, we'll be able to recover the loan funds from Cayuga Press and encourage another business to develop new jobs in the Town of Dryden.

So, this covers most of the agenda items, but only scratches the surface of the printed material available for this meeting. There's also:
  • data to analyze relative costs of MEGA and NYSEG electricity
  • notice of a workshop on Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination in Brooktondale April 16
  • 2007 Tax Reconciliation from the Town Clerk
  • a proclamation of Emergency Medical Services Week May 20 - 26
  • Brad Prentiss's resume and recommendation to fill a Conservation Board vacancy
  • a report from the Tompkins County Council of Governments
  • an invitation from Onondaga County executive, Nick Pirro, to an event discussing Sustainable Policies for Municipalities.
  • a proposal from Councilperson David Makar to hold Town Board meetings in locations other than the Town Hall
  • the bookkeeper's report of cash flows
  • a letter describing concerns of property owners near the new town hall regarding construction of an access road between the old and new town halls
  • the Town Clerk's monthly and annual report of income from processing of marriage licenses, SPCA fees, passport applications, building permits and much, much more.
  • a model resolution in support of Senator Schumer's plan to regulate long haul truck traffic and transportation of hazardous materials
  • Notice of the Board of Assessment Review Hearing date: May 17, 2007 3:00 - 5:00
  • a report from the McLean Community Council
  • regular monthly report from the SPCA
  • newsletter from the New York Planning Federation

I grossly underestimated when I was talking to Dawn about how long it takes to write about the Town Board meetings. It's actually taken about two hours. Hmm... I can only hope that somewhere at least one person's glad they didn't have to go to the four hour meeting to find out what's going on in town.


Blogger David Makar said...

Isn't "Reasonable" a matter of personal perspective when talking abouvt the length of the meetings? I think we meet far too infrequently as sub-committees and end up doing a lot of "work" when we are all together. It seems like it is working however.

Perhaps we should plan a tour of ADC and invite some of the North Street neighbors along (including Vladimir) - so we can better understand what they do.

I would like to see ADC's 5 year, 10 year and perhaps 50 year plan for the site. If they ever get to 800+ employees and a campus of buildings, I'd like to see that now, before we approve, not later.

As for the newsletter, we hopefully haven't totally fallen short. Steve T. will contact Kathy Valentino in Ithaca to find out how it is produced and Henry has details on the process of sending the letter out. All hope isn't lost on this (is it?).

The access road is a "gravel driveway". Road implies public traffic. :-)

I'm glad you wrote up this report - it is excellent and I hope you keep it up. By the way, I'm going to copy it and put it on my blog too with these comments.

1:11 PM, April 13, 2007  

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