GERMANTOWN—The calendar year ended without the Town Board approving—or rejecting—the revised Comprehensive Plan.
“I think the overall document is good,” said board member Brittany DuFresne, but she had questions about details and language. For example, she said, the plan prohibits burn barrels without saying what a burn barrel is.
The plan has a “repeated reference to a designated scenic byway,” said Ms. DuFresne. “I cannot find anywhere that New York State has designated a scenic byway [in Germantown]. It rubs me the wrong way. If is designated, where, show me. If it’s not designated, it needs to say that, or that the designation is recommended.”
In a light moment at the December 19 Town Board meeting, Janet Crawford (l), the supervisor’s administrative assistant, gave farewell gifts to Supervisor Joel Craig and Town Board member Andrea Foley as they completed their terms. Photo by Debby Mayer
From the audience, Stephen Reynolds, Planning Board chairman, said, “In the 1970s Germantown had the opportunity to be included in that designation, but a quirk of state law in the process led to its not happening.”
The plan “recommends forming committees, but we have committees that can take on these tasks,” said Ms. DuFresne.
She also wanted input from board member Ron Moore II, who had questions about the revised plan but was absent from the December 19 board meeting.
The board decided that Ms. DuFresne and Mr. Moore would meet with Comprehensive Plan Committee members Norman Mintz, Jason Shelton and John Kukon (also a Town Board member) before the next Town Board meeting, Tuesday, January 9.
In other business:
• The board and the audience of about 30 discussed making the 2018 property tax bills available at Town Hall on December 28 and 29 so that residents who wished to, could pay their property taxes in 2017, to ensure that those taxes would be deductible against federal taxes. The new tax law passed by Congress and signed by the president caps that deductibility at $10,000. Payments are now made at the Bank of Greene County on Route 9G. (Tuesday, January 2, 2018, new town Supervisor Robert Beaury, who assisted with the tax bill distribution December 28 and 29, reported that 50 people picked up their bills in a “terrific” community experience. “They appreciated what we were doing. That’s what we’re all about,” he said.)
• During the public comment period, Emily Michael and Melinda Reichlin, residents of Church Avenue on separate properties, opposed the proposal to allow commercial events on private properties. Ms. Michael and Ms. Reichlin both live close to the Picicci-Oehlke property, whose owners have initiated the proposal so that, for example, they could host weddings in their barn.
Both residents noted that the town has only one code enforcement officer and a small Police Department to enforce any law that might be passed. They expressed fear about loud music and a large number of cars, making Germantown unpleasant for current residents and unattractive to future buyers.
In response, Genette Picicci-Oehlke said that she was a proponent of “some form of regulation. We want the town to charge us a fee.” She noted that she had first brought up the proposal in January 2017. The board held a public hearing on the proposed new law on May 16, but never closed the hearing, and no decision has been made. “It feels discriminatory,” said Ms. Picicci-Oehlke.
The problem is enforcement, said Ms. DuFresne. “We don’t know how this would be enforced if it was in effect,” she said, adding, “I hate that it’s been a year”
• Town historian Susan Raab reported that the dendrochronology project in the historic parsonage on Maple Avenue, begun in July, was ending. After 12 borings, “the unofficial word is that the earliest beam is from 1721 and the most recent is 1764. These beams predate what was previously known, but we can still call it the 1767 parsonage,” she said
• The annual organization meeting is Tuesday, January 9 at 6 p.m. It will be followed by the regular Town Board meeting at 7 p.m.