KINDERHOOK–The town is preparing to update its Comprehensive Plan and is now accepting bids from consultants to help with some of the technical revisions. At its regular monthly meeting Monday, June 14, the Town Board approved a three-page Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit those bids.
The town received a grant from Hudson River Valley Greenway to pay for the consultant. But since the grant will cover only $7,500 of a project that would typically cost many more thousands, much of the update will be done by volunteers on the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee. The group includes a member from the Columbia Land Conservancy with experience on these kinds of projects, said Councilman Michael Kipp, the board’s liaison to the committee.
“We can do just as good of a job with the resources we have on the committee, since we have dedicated people willing to do the work,” Mr. Kipp said after the meeting, referring to the limited time the group will have with the consultant.
A comprehensive plan sets the broad guidelines for land use and growth in a municipality, and future changes in the a town’s zoning law are supposed to comply with the plan. The nine-member committee has been meeting for more than two years and spent the last several months putting together the RFP adopted Monday.
The three Republicans on the Town Board voted to approve the RFP, while the lone Democrat, Councilman Peter Bujanow, voted against approving it, saying the document was “very incomplete.”
“It’s not detailed enough,” Councilman Bujanow said. “There should be a timetable of key events; there should be a technical proposal and a cost proposal.”
Councilman Kipp responded by saying the professional who sits on the committee helped shorten the originally lengthy RFP so that it matched the scope of the $7,500 project. “She’s been a huge help in directing us on how to handle this situation–what to pare out of it based on what the town is capable of doing–and what the volunteers on the committee can do,” he said.
Town Attorney Andrew Howard acknowledged Councilman Bujanow’s concerns but said that the process of sending out an RFP “is not just a science, but is also an art, in terms of understanding the scope of services that can be paid for.”
“There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here,” said Mr. Howard. He said the question presented to him was: “Does the document meet the objectives of the committee, based on the amount of money involved and the need to begin this process…. and I think it does.”
“This wasn’t just thrown together,” said Mr. Howard. “It’s my understanding the committee has been meeting over the last several months. I think there has to be a recognition of the scope of what’s being requested.”
But Councilman Bujanow was not persuaded. “I’ve done tens of thousands of these RFPs,” he said. “I feel this a disservice to the taxpayers, and I will write a letter to the state comptroller.”
The Town of Kinderhook’s current Comprehensive Plan, adopted in August 2000, can be found on the town’s website, www.kinderhook-ny.gov.
In other business, the board failed to second a motion by Councilman Bujanow to hold a public hearing on Kinderhook’s moratorium on outdoor wood burners.
During the board’s discussion on the wood burners, Councilman Glenn Smith said it didn’t make sense for the town to pass its own law, since the state Department of Environmental Conservation is in the process of updating its regulations for the wood burners.
“It’s inefficient for the town to be redundant,” Councilman Smith said.
In a phone call after the meeting, town Supervisor Patrick Grattan agreed that the town should wait to see how the state proceeds with its regulation of wood burners, so the town law does not conflict with the state’s.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where Kinderhook allows something and the state doesn’t,” said Mr. Grattan. “And then hypothetically, the state could send a warden and arrest someone in our town.”