Call for G’town plan update goes nowhere

GERMANTOWN—Councilman Donald Westmore made a motion at Monday’s Town Board meeting that the board establish a committee to consider updating the town’s Comprehensive Plan and to “address the advisability and duration of a possible moratorium on development of portions of the Route 9G corridor.”

He noted that “over 100” town residents now supported the establishment of such a committee with their signatures on a petition.

No one seconded the motion.

Asked after the meeting if he was surprised by the lack of support, Mr. Westmore said, “No. I sprang it on them.” He had been out of town for a few days, he said, and upon his return he realized that the meeting agenda held no follow-up on the board’s discussion of a moratorium at its workshop meeting March 16. Concerned that constituents would be angry at being ignored, he drafted his motion.

In public comment later in the meeting, Lee Wurtzburger said, “I appreciate Don’s proposal and hope it will be considered in future meetings, even if the board is not ready to move forward on it right now.”

Supervisor Joel Craig noted that the Planning Board had received “concept designs” for a new Dollar General retail store on Route 9G, but not on time for the March meeting. The designs would be posted on the town’s website, germantownny.org, he said.

“The subject of updating the Comprehensive Plan has been brought up for the last two years, said Ellen Jouret-Epstein during the meeting’s public comment period. “I’m concerned that there was no second to the motion, that the board is not able to separate out the Comprehensive Plan from any single proposed project.”

The current Comprehensive Plan (available on the website) was completed in 2007, said Ms. Jouret-Epstein. The supervisor and town attorney at the time declined to approve it until a new zoning law had been passed, in 2011. Germantown “is very different from what it was in 2007,” Ms. Jouret-Epstein said. “We have new residents, news businesses, a new consensus energy. The zones that we drew are eight-year-old points of view.

“Updates are not onerous,” she concluded, not like drafting a new plan. And “it doesn’t tie you into anything about current proposals.”

“I think we need to allow the Planning Board to do their job” on the Dollar General proposal, said Councilman Michael Mortenson. “This board doesn’t need to step on their toes.”

Councilman Matthew Phelan noted that the board was going to be reviewing the sewer lines in any case. Updating the Comprehensive Plan was not a “dead issue,” said Mr. Craig.

In other business:

  • Police Department consultant Peter Volkmann confirmed the draft report that he gave to the town board, saying only that he did make recommendations to go forward, with a cost analysis, suggesting to the board and the police commissioners to “bring the department back up to speed.” He did not wish the report to be made public, he said, because of safety issues, personnel issues and practices. Supervisor Craig said that the board would discuss the report further with Mr. Volkmann, after digesting it
  • Town historian Susan Raab reported that the History Department had received “a few small grants” that were paying for minor renovations at the parsonage, such as stripping wallpaper and repairing plaster. The department has a new intern through the Civic Engagement Program at Bard College, now and through the summer, who will do a project that culminates in a curated exhibition, downstairs in the parsonage
  • In discussing the Anchorage boat launch with the board, Donald Crews learned that he and Patty Hinkein were charged with putting together a small committee and reporting back to the board next month on appointments to the committee and what initial ideas the group has
  • Mr. Craig announced a date change for the April meeting to Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m.
  • The town will host a rabies clinic, April 18 (ferrets and cats, 10 a.m., dogs 11 a.m.) and a town-wide yard and plant sale, May 16
  • Tickets for the April 25 Jazz in GTown concert go on sale April 1 at planetarts.org. Seating is limited at Central House Hotel and all tickets ($25) must be purchased in advance. The Masters of Jazz exhibition of photographs by Chuck Stewart is on view at Central House April 26 through May 2
  • Mr. Craig expressed the board’s condolences on the death of Larry Jennings, father of Highway Superintendent Richard Jennings and grandfather of police officer William Jennings
  • In happier news, Mr. Craig expressed the board’s congratulations to councilwoman Andrea Foley (formerly Dunn) and Peter Dedrick on the birth of Colton Thomas Dedrick.

All board members except Ms. Foley and an audience of about 30 attended the meeting.

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