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Town Board talks business

PINE PLAINS — 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.

“I thought we would have five people on the committee,” he said. “And you, [town Supervisor Gregg Pulver], said you want to be on it too.”

“I think it’s better to have more, and if they drop out [we’re not stuck with too few members],” town Councilwoman Sandra David said.

The board agreed and by discussion’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 county’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 there’s little time to waste.

“We have to get moving on this,” 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.

“Then we have to decide whether the housing will be built new on the Durst site, whether they’ll be built new in Pine Plains, or if they’ll fix up old houses in Pine Plains,” David said. “There are a lot of questions to answer. It will be an interesting process and we’ve got a really good group of people.

“One of the most important things in starting a proposal is that the public realize what it is,” she added. “Affordable housing is really to help house the people that are already giving service to and can’t afford to live in Pine Plains, so it’s actually really a wonderful idea.”

Subdivision regs,

performance standards

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 night’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.

“The 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,” said Pulver. “We’re really not taking action, we’re just putting everything in writing and making sure everybody knows what we expect out of the boards.”

Code of ethics, property reval

The town’s code of ethics, which was also on the agenda for that night’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 ‘80s.

“It does a very good job of mirroring the state’s suggested laws,” he said. “But we’ll look and see if we have any deficiencies in ours, I’m pretty confident we don’t. A lot of these things are designed for much larger municipalities. I don’t think we’ve ever given an official opinion or that we’ve had to convene formally.”

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 “scared off,” according to Pulver, when neighboring North East had trouble with its reassessment process. Now, he said, the project is well overdue.

“Our inventory is so outdated that I think we would pick up a lot of taxables,” Pulver said, adding that just because one’s assessment goes up doesn’t mean one’s taxes will follow. “It probably means you weren’t paying your fair share of taxes for a number of years. I’m just scared of the cost of such a project. But we’ll get some bids in and see what we’ll do and that will tell us a lot.”

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