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Village Board talks chickens and trees, sets hearing for police reform plan

MILLERTON — From requests about owning chickens within the village limits to the much-anticipated police reform plan, the Village Board made good use of its first workshop meeting of 2021 on Monday evening, Jan. 4. The meeting was live streamed at 6 p.m. to the “Village of Millerton VOM” Facebook page due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Chickens

Village Clerk Kelly Kilmer shared an email she received from residents requesting permission from the Village Board to house chickens on their property at 15 Linden St. As the residents had read the village code and realized they needed the board’s permission, Kilmer said they were looking to either get board approval or learn what steps to take to get approval.

 Mayor Debbie Middlebrook raised past difficulties the village has had with chickens running around the village and how the board has had to address such problems. That said, she conceded, “It’ll be up to the board to decide, but I’m not inclined to approve them only because we just had so many difficulties in the past.”

Agreeing that chickens have been a problem in the past,  Trustee Matthew Hartzog called attention to issues concerning roosters and instances when residents didn’t know they had a rooster when they purchased the bird as a chick. 

Trustee Alicia Sartori said she’d be fine if the animal was caged while Trustee Joshua Schultz noted there are currently chickens residing within the village that are lawfully permitted; he said he would personally like to see the property and go from there.

Middlebrook asked Kilmer if the residents mentioned in their email whether the chickens were going to be free range or caged. Kilmer replied there was no direct information on how many chickens there would be or how they would be cared for, just that they were searching for guidance for getting approval. 

The mayor suggested Kilmer reach out and say the board wants more information, adding that before it can take this under advisement, it needs to know how many chickens there would be, how they’d be cared for and if any neighbors have any issues with it. In addition to the board’s approval, Kilmer said the residents would have to get approval from their neighbors and get their responses to how they would feel about having chickens in the neighborhood. Once they receive the neighbors’ feedback, Middlebrook said Schultz can get the address for the residence and check out the property.

Police reform

With the board scheduled to adopt the village’s police reform plan by Thursday, April 1, as per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate that all police agencies throughout the state at every level adopt reform policies by April 1 or face the loss of state funding, the trustees set a public hearing for the plan for its workshop meeting on Monday, March 1, at 6:05 p.m.

Tree removal

Middlebrook reported that village resident and business owner Bruce Valentine had visited her house to ask if he could remove some decaying trees in front of the funeral home formerly owned by his late father. He currently owns Valentine Monument Works & Sandblast on Park Avenue. Along with mentioning that his grandfather had planted the trees that are now deteriorating around the property, Valentine expressed his interest in taking down the overgrown trees at his own expense. 

After reaching out to Village Attorney Ian MacDonald to ask what the board might have to do, Middlebrook was told that the board has to make sure neighbors have no issues with Valentine removing the trees before they are taken down. Additionally, if Valentine decides to hire a company to take do the work, Middlebrook said the board has to have coverage in place that holds the village harmless in case of any damages. She added Village Highway Supervisor Coleman Lawrence could go and look at the trees and offer his opinion if they should be removed.

Hartzog said perhaps the village should consider planting trees that are “smaller, that would not be moving and hanging around and causing additional problems, perhaps something that would grow to only 45 feet high” in the future, so the village won’t have to deal with removing them down the road.  

Middlebrook added that the village could also consider getting trees that are native to the area, which could fare better in the long run. With Hartzog looking into native plants, Middlebrook said she’d reach out to the attorney to see what paperwork the board must obtain and then Lawrence can go and check out the trees.

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