Germantown petition calls for 9G moratorium

GERMANTOWN—Councilman Donald Westmore reported Monday that the Town Board had received a petition, signed by about 80 residents, requesting that the board “establish a committee to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning law with respect to commercial development in the town.”

The petitioners seek the update “to ensure that the purposes and goals of the Comprehensive Plan are adequately addressed and consistently applied in both the hamlet and the Route 9G corridor.”

The petition’s final sentence says, “In addition, we request that while such a study is undertaken, that the board immediately impose a moratorium on commercial development on Route 9G.”

In a town of 1,954 residents (2010 census), 80 signatures equals 4% of the town’s population.

The board and audience discussed the petition briefly at Monday’s workshop meeting and will consider it further at the regular Town Board meeting Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m.

Route 9G is zoned for commercial use. The commercial development proposed at this time for the west side of Route 9G just north of the Main Street intersection is a Dollar General retail store. A site plan is being proposed for review by the town’s Planning Board. If the planners OK the site plan, then the developer would need a building permit.

From the audience at Monday’s meeting, resident Lee Wurtzburger gave Mr. Westmore a memo from the state Department of State on land use moratoria. “This indicates that Germantown is in a position to do a moratorium without a legal problem,” said Mr. Wurtzburger.

“I think it’s a good idea to do the moratorium, as soon as possible,” he added. “We’re uncertain about how things will play out with Dollar General, and it’s a bigger question that that. We’re uncertain and we ought to be certain.”

“We should look at it in a larger context,” said Mr. Westmore.

“I’m not in for a moratorium,” said Councilman Michael Mortenson. “We just got brand-new planning and zoning.”

The effort was not to redo the zoning laws, said Mr. Wurtzburger, but to review them, “not rewrite the whole thing.”

The state recommends that a comprehensive plan and zoning laws be reviewed every 10 years, said Jeremy Smith, a former councilman and current member of the Germantown Board of Education. He urged getting a Comprehensive Plan Committee “off the ground before summer.”

The draft Comprehensive Plan on the town’s website is dated April 2007 and the Zoning and Subdivision Law is dated 2011.

The Dollar General proposal is not on the agenda for the Planning Board’s March 26 meeting, board secretary Jami DelPozzo said Wednesday. The application is still pending, but the developer did not respond by March 11, in order to get on the agenda. “So far, we’re still in limbo,” said Ms. DelPozzo.

In other discussions at the workshop meeting:

  • The board heard Patty Hinkein express her wish to form a volunteer committee for Lasher Memorial Park, known as the Anchorage boat launch. “It’s a great boat launch, and many people from surrounding communities use it,” she said, ‘but I’d like to make more of it, for boaters, picnickers and education programs.”

The committee, she said, would do research that the town board didn’t have time to do and report to the board with suggestions for use and possible funding sources. Mr. Westmore, who has wished for kayak rentals and storage at the Anchorage, and Ms. Hinkein agreed to work on a recommendation for Monday’s Town Board meeting

  • The board continued to discuss with Robert Nedwick the state of the town’s athletic fields off Palatine Park Road. Drainage is a problem and the lack of a 6-foot fence prevents Little League games.

From the audience, maintenance director Anthony Cidras said, “We need to pick one field and focus on it.” The decision was to focus on the softball field, which needs clay that comes from New Jersey at a cost of about $2,000. That was what Clermont paid, said Mr. Cidras, and that town’s ball field is now the go-to field.

Mr. Cidras agreed to talk to Highway Superintendent Richard Jennings and come up with a plan and a budget for renovating the softball field

  • Councilman Matthew Phelan reported on plans for the Fourth of July celebration Saturday, July 4 (rain date July 5). Entry fees will be increased slightly (from $2 per adult to $3), with more activities, especially for children: pony rides, a petting zoo, more bounce houses, a birds of prey demonstration and the Mad Scientist. For adults, there may be a Wiffle Ball tournament. Fireworks are scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

All board members except Andrea Dunn attended, along with about a dozen residents.

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