Town Board talks business
PINE PLAINS â€” The Town Board addressed a number of housekeeping matters at its special meeting on Thursday, June 24. In fact its agenda boasted more than a half-dozen issues that needed to be discussed by the board, most of which were, some of which were not.
Affordable Housing Committee
The manning of the Affordable Housing Committee was discussed. A few of the council members suggested names of those they thought would make good candidates for the volunteer group. Most of the names were repeated by the different board members, although not all.
Attorney to the Town Warren Replansky spoke about the number of members the board wanted on the committee.
â€œI thought we would have five people on the committee,â€ he said. â€œAnd you, [town Supervisor Gregg Pulver], said you want to be on it too.â€
â€œI think itâ€™s better to have more, and if they drop out [weâ€™re not stuck with too few members],â€ town Councilwoman Sandra David said.
The board agreed and by discussionâ€™s end settled on the following members: Sandra David, George McGhee, Jennifer Pindt-Mosher, Jack McQuade, Elizabeth White and Ed Casazza.
Replansky suggested the committee meet with Anne Saylor, from the countyâ€™s planning department, as it begins looking at the affordable housing issue. He said it may take multiple meetings to map out a strategy for the town to reach its goals, let alone make decisions on what those goals are. He also said thereâ€™s little time to waste.
â€œWe have to get moving on this,â€ Replansky said, urging the board to get serious about an issue that is looming large throughout the entire Hudson Valley region.
And move on it they did. By the following week David gave an update; the committee was formed and had scheduled a meeting for July 16 (not open to the public). An immediate focus will be regarding the Durst application for the Carvel Property Development, and whether it gets its New Neighborhood Development (NND) approval.
â€œThen we have to decide whether the housing will be built new on the Durst site, whether theyâ€™ll be built new in Pine Plains, or if theyâ€™ll fix up old houses in Pine Plains,â€ David said. â€œThere are a lot of questions to answer. It will be an interesting process and weâ€™ve got a really good group of people.
â€œOne of the most important things in starting a proposal is that the public realize what it is,â€ she added. â€œAffordable housing is really to help house the people that are already giving service to and canâ€™t afford to live in Pine Plains, so itâ€™s actually really a wonderful idea.â€
After the board held a lengthy review of its proposed revisions of the subdivision regulations (a full story appeared in the July 1 issue, on Page A1), for which Replansky and town Planning Consultant Bonnie Franson were present, it returned to the nightâ€™s agenda. It next reviewed the fee schedule for all departments in the town. It was decided that Replansky will put the schedule into the form of a local law, for the board to review and ultimately adopt. Once adopted, a copy of the fee schedule can be viewed at Town Hall.
There was then talk about performance standards for Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members. While no action was taken on this subject, it was discussed among Town Board members.
â€œThe state came down with mandated training two, three years ago, and this just puts everything in one spot now, with training, missing meetings, what have you,â€ said Pulver. â€œWeâ€™re really not taking action, weâ€™re just putting everything in writing and making sure everybody knows what we expect out of the boards.â€
Code of ethics, property reval
The townâ€™s code of ethics, which was also on the agenda for that nightâ€™s meeting, was not addressed. The board decided to table the matter until its next meeting, set for Thursday, July 15. The supervisor said the ethics code the town has now is quite good, even though it dates back to the â€˜80s.
â€œIt does a very good job of mirroring the stateâ€™s suggested laws,â€ he said. â€œBut weâ€™ll look and see if we have any deficiencies in ours, Iâ€™m pretty confident we donâ€™t. A lot of these things are designed for much larger municipalities. I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve ever given an official opinion or that weâ€™ve had to convene formally.â€
There was a brief mention of a property reval at the June 24 meeting. Assessor Jim Mara is on the cusp of sending out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to qualified vendors who could conduct a town-wide reassessment. The town had started to investigate such a project five years ago, but got â€œscared off,â€ according to Pulver, when neighboring North East had trouble with its reassessment process. Now, he said, the project is well overdue.
â€œOur inventory is so outdated that I think we would pick up a lot of taxables,â€ Pulver said, adding that just because oneâ€™s assessment goes up doesnâ€™t mean oneâ€™s taxes will follow. â€œIt probably means you werenâ€™t paying your fair share of taxes for a number of years. Iâ€™m just scared of the cost of such a project. But weâ€™ll get some bids in and see what weâ€™ll do and that will tell us a lot.â€