CLAVERACK–The Town Board opened up a public hearing last week for proposed Local Law #1, which would revise the zoning map to correct an error.
Back in December, the board approved a new code and zoning redistricts to align town zoning with its 2008 Comprehensive Plan. The new code is intended to preserve Claverack’s rural character in certain districts, while encouraging business growth and more affordable housing in others.
But when the new map was created, one district was mistakenly changed from Highway Commercial to Rural Conservation. Town Supervisor Robin Andrews said that the proposed law will correct the map so that this area, on Route 23 where the Elm Tree Motel and Mobil Station are is restored as a Highway Commercial district.
She said that the Columbia County Planning Board has to review the change called for in the law and then the public hearing will be closed at the next Town Board workshop meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, February 25 at the Town Office.
At the board meeting following the hearing the board heard Peter Reiss, chair of the town Agricultural Advisory Committee discuss the county’s Farmland Protection Plan in his report to the Town Board. He said that the Columbia County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board has released a draft of the Farmland Protection plan for public comment.
“The purpose of the final plan is to set forth specific recommendations for how the county can support and sustain farms and farmers,” said Mr. Reiss.
He said that the 18-month planning process began with assessing the county’s farming “strengths and needs, economic value, open space value, and the consequences of conversion.” Mr. Reiss said that Columbia County is one of only two counties in New York that do not have farmland protection plans. A public hearing will be scheduled before the county Board of Supervisors votes on whether to adopt the plan. More information can be found at www.columbiacountyny.com/CCAFPB/index.html.
Also at the February 14 meeting:
•The board observed a moment of silence in memory of former Town Supervisor John Hess
•Highway Superintendent Louis Lamont brought up an issue regarding his employees’ pay raises. He said that according to the employee handbook, the employees are to get a 2.5 cent per hour pay increase every year. However, they did not receive it this year, and Mr. Lamont wanted an explanation for them.
Ms. Andrews said that the board is in the process of redoing the employee handbook and is considering changing the method of longevity pay. But the board was unable to finish work on the handbook before the new year.
Board member Bob Preusser said he believes the employees should still receive the raise until the new handbook is done. “I think until this new handbook is revised, we’d be obligated to honor it,” he said.
The board agreed to give the increases retroactively for the current year until the new terms are set when the handbook is updated
•Ms. Andrews gave an update on the fire district tax line dispute. Last month former county Fire Coordinator Jim Van Deusen alerted the board that nine parcels in the fire district served by the A.B. Shaw Fire Company are paying taxes to the Churchtown fire district. Last week Ms. Andrews said she has been looking over the tax lines for the fire districts and is in the process of comparing them to the assessment rolls. She said in addition to getting the lines fixed for the parcels in question, she will take the opportunity to review the lines for the entire town
•The board appointed Jean LaPorta town historian
•Ian Nitschke was appointed chair of Historic Advisory Committee
•Ms. Andrews said that March 7 will be the Town of Claverack’s 225th anniversary.
The next meeting will be a workshop February 25 at 7 p.m. at the Town Office. The next regular board meeting will be March 14 at Town Hall at 7 p.m.