G’town punts private events law to Planning Board

GERMANTOWN—The Town Board will not vote on a proposed law that would expand commercial event venues to private properties, Supervisor Robert Beaury said at his first board meeting, January 9.

Rather, he said, after a scheduled training session, the Planning Board would be asked to consider the proposal.

Since last May the board has had a draft of a proposed law to regulate how homeowners rent their properties for commercial events such as weddings, parties, meetings, reunions and corporate events. A public hearing took place at the May 16, 2017 meeting and has remained open since then for further comment.

The impetus for the law came from Genette Picicci and Vern Oehlke, who wish to rent their barn and farm for weddings and possibly other events.

Ms. Picicci has continued to pitch the law in the public comment period of Town Board meetings; other residents have opposed it. On January 9, Ms. Picicci noted, with a poster board image, that all towns in Columbia County allow such events, except for Canaan, Gallatin and Germantown.

Melinda Reichlin, Emily Michael and Steven Savoris oppose the bill. Ellen Jouret-Epstein, who has opposed the bill in the past, asked the Town Board to delay a decision on the proposal until after a zoning review that would follow approval of the revised Comprehensive Plan.

Both sides have collected signatures on petitions.

“This is a complicated issue,” said Mr. Beaury. “People are passionate about this on both sides.”

The board approved “annual minimum training” for members of the Planning and Zoning boards, set for Saturday, February 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a snow date of February 17. The town attorney and code enforcement officer are scheduled to speak at that training.

The board also approved paying members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of appeals the meeting stipend ($25) for this session. Refreshments will be served.

Members of the Planning and Zoning boards were urged to attend the training, but if they cannot, they can receive the training online, free or at minimal cost.

In other business:

• Supervisor Beaury announced new hours at Town Hall: Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Wednesdays, additional hours from 5 to 8 p.m. that include the code enforcement officer

• At the organization meeting that preceded the Town Board meeting, the board’s regular meeting date was changed to the second Tuesday of the month; this allows the town attorney to attend, Mr. Beaury said after the meeting

• When the board set a workshop meeting with the Comprehensive Plan Committee to discuss further tweaks to the revised plan, committee co-chair Norman Mintz asked from the floor that consultant Alan Sorenson be paid $1,250 to attend the meeting and make any resulting changes in the document.

Mr. Beaury said Mr. Sorenson was welcome to attend the meeting, but the board made no decision on the compensation. Making the changes, said Mr. Beaury, is “not beyond our ability or that of the town attorney”

• The board set a public hearing for Tuesday, February 13 at 6:45 p.m. on a Local Law for a Cold War veterans’ tax exemption, amending the 10-year limit that the town has in place

• In a street light update, Supervisor Beaury reported that he had spoken to National Grid and to the contractor who would install the new streetlights. Mr. Beaury sid that “weather permitting,” the hamlet would have its new streetlights by “mid-March, maybe earlier”

• The board wants to restart the town’s Economic Development Committee and is looking for volunteers to serve on it

• Mr. Beaury and Town Board member Brittany DuFresne discussed improvements to the municipal parking lot, including repaving and adding lighting and landscaping; Mr. Beaury said he was working with Delaware Engineering for a funding source, a “slow process” for an “expensive” project.

Among the resolutions approved during the board’s organization meeting held on January 9, prior to the regular meeting:

• The supervisor appointed Janet Crawford as supervisor’s assistant, councilman Ron Moore II as deputy supervisor and named Mr. Moore, Councilman John Kukon and Martin Lueck as police commissioners

• The supervisor appointed the following town board committees: government, Brittany DuFresne and Moore; Public Works & Highway, Kukon and Beaury; Parks & Recreation, DuFresne and Austin Sullivan; Budget & Finance, Beaury and Sullivan

• Reappointed were Tal Rappleyea as town attorney; Sickler, Torchia, Allen & Church as town accountants; Pine Plains Veterinary Associates as official dog shelter and Anthony Cidras as acting dog control officer

• James Trapp stays on as code enforcement officer and building inspector; in the Police Department, Brian DuBois is officer-in-charge and Damon Filli is officer

• In a change, Delaware Engineering, DPC, was appointed town engineers

• Tony Albino was appointed to the Board of Assessment Review

• Edward Colwell was reappointed as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Stephen Reynolds as chairman of the Planning Board; Joseph Guido was reappointed to the ZBA for a term expiring at the end of 2022, and Tim Otty was reappointed to the Planning Board for a term through 2024

• The Columbia Paper continues as the town’s official newspaper and the Bank of Greene County as the town’s official bank, for deposits and collection of real estate tax

• Annual salaries were accepted as stated in the 2018 budget: supervisor, $7,500, town clerk, $7,500; justice, $6,120; assessor, $18,258; highway superintendent, $58,344; code enforcement officer, $18,000; Town Board member, $2,600

• The Police Department is paid hourly, $17 and $15 per hour, respectively, for the officer-in-charge and the officer.

The next Town Board meeting is Tuesday, February 13 at 7 p.m.

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