G’town must take land church would give it

GERMANTOWN—The Town Board completed three pieces of pending business at its meeting Monday, and left one item still hanging.

In the most immediately expensive item, board members approved beginning an eminent domain proceeding in state Supreme Court in order to get a strip of land for a sidewalk on Church Avenue.

The land is part of the property of the Germantown Reformed Church. Church members are willing to donate the necessary right of way, but there is no defined owner of the property on the church’s deed, so the town has to “spend more money,” said Supervisor Roy Brown in payments for attorneys and title searches. Uncontested proceedings are estimated at $8,300; contested, the proceedings could cost $12,000. The board authorized funds up to $15,000.

The expense cannot be applied toward the town’s required match of state Department of Environmental Conservation funds for the sidewalks. The sidewalk will connect to Palatine Manor.

In other business, the board:

Approved the extension of mixed-use zoning on County Route 8 (Main Street) from Church Avenue to Hover Avenue. This change will allow more small businesses in that area. A public hearing was held on July 22; no further public comment had been received since then.

Approved adoption of Police Department procedures for the two AR-15 rifles purchased earlier this year. The written procedures have been reviewed by police chief Brian Dubois, Mr. Brown and board members Joan Snyder and Donald Westmore.

Mr. Westmore asked that his comment be part of the meeting record: “I reviewed the training that our police officers received on the use of this weapon, among others, and was impressed with the detail and clarity of the training, especially the conditions on when to use, or not use, the rifle.”

Postponed approval of the town’s takeover of the property on which the Powder Mills Spring Dam is situated on County Route 8. The town owns what’s called Fire Pond, but the dam is on private property. The property owners are willing to donate the dam site to the town for much-needed maintenance.

The board held an information hearing at its July 22 meeting and had scheduled a vote for its September meeting, but town attorney Tal Rappleyea said from the audience that a state environmental review (SEQR) must be done before the vote.

Learned from Mr. Brown that the new information kiosks on the Fingar Insurance property in the hamlet are well used. The town has come up with a 10-mile bike ride and maps will be posted in a kiosk.

Learned from Andrea Dunn of the Parks Commission that a sub sale is planned for Thursday, October 3, during lunch and dinner hours, and an October 26 Halloween parade. The commission still needs more volunteers, said Ms. Dunn; events and projects cannot take place otherwise.

Reminded residents that everyone except senior citizens must apply for the STAR property tax exemption. Property owners should have received a letter from the state with instructions, but if they have not, they should call 518 457-2036 or visit www.tax.ny.gov to apply. The town clerk and the town assessor do not assist with this.

Learned that a Columbia County Department of Health flu vaccine clinic will be held Wednesday, October 30, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Town Hall. Appointments are not necessary, but the line forms early.

Reminded residents and visitors that the town has a large municipal parking lot on Main Street just steps from hamlet shopping. Vehicles have been observed parked in the hamlet for five to seven days. There is no town law against this, so the board set out to review the parking laws and come up with new signage.

Mr. Brown thanked board members, town staff and many volunteers for their support of the September 21 Apple Festival sponsored by the Lions Club. In a preliminary report, he said, “It was a great event.” Some 1,500 people paid to enter, and children under 14 got in free, so attendance was in the 1,800-2,000 range. The vendors were happy, said Mr. Brown. The 2014 Apple Festival is scheduled for September 20.

All board members except Michael Mortenson and an audience of about a dozen attended.

The next Town Board meeting is Monday, October 21.




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