GERMANTOWN—The Town Board voted unanimously to abolish the Germantown Police Department at a special meeting on August 7. The vote is subject to a Permissive Referendum.
The resolution to disband the department, Local Law No. 2 of 2018, does not take effect until 30 days after its adoption, approximately September 6. During this time a petition may be circulated to put the matter to a referendum at the next general election, November 6 this year.
The petition must be signed by at least 5% of the number of Germantown voters in the last gubernatorial election, in 2014.
In the meantime, Supervisor Robert Beaury said Friday that county Sheriff’s Department has the two AR-15 rifles that the town bought for the Police Department in April 2013, after heated public discussion, along with two shotguns the Germantown force had also owned.
The firearms belong to the town; Mr. Beaury said the Town Board would talk about what to do with them at its next meeting, September 11.
Also in the meantime, Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek dismissed a lawsuit that Mr. Beaury had brought against Brian DuBois, former officer-in-charge of the Germantown Police Department, forbidding him access to firearms owned by the town. Carl G. Whitbeck Jr. of Whitbeck Benedict & Smith, who represented the town, said Tuesday that the case was moot since the Town Board had voted to abolish the Police Department.
Mr. Whitbeck and Peter Schuyler of Kitson & Schuyler in Croton, who represents Mr. DuBois, also agreed Tuesday that the county court had no jurisdiction in the case.
A second case remains on the docket, brought by District Attorney Paul Czajka suspending Mr. DuBois’ personal permit for two pistols, a Glock and a Smith & Wesson. Mr. Schuyler plans to represent Mr. DuBois at a hearing on that case scheduled for September 17.
New recycling rules
At the August 14 Town Board meeting, Mr. Beaury reported that Columbia County has a “new protocol” for recycling. Jolene Race, director of the Solid Waste Department of the county Department of Public Works, has issued a memo to all municipalities.
“Actions taken by China over the past months have begun impacting the recycling markets and state and local programs,” she wrote. “The new proposed standard quality limit is far more stringent than any existing international standard and unless there is an easing to some of the restrictions, market prices will likely be depressed, if markets are available at all.
“Our goal moving forward is to ensure the highest quality material that could be marketed by both domestic and international markets.”
In other words, recyclables must be washed thoroughly and residents must be careful to recycle only allowed items.
While the United States exports a “significant number of recyclables,” Ms. Race wrote, “domestic markets do exist and may expand, perhaps as a direct result of China’s actions. However, these developments might take time.”
In an educational effort, Ms. Race circulated with her memo a chart that outlines what may and may not be recycled. Educational efforts will continue, she wrote. Those with questions can call the department’s administrative office at 518 828-2737.
In other business the Town Board:
• Approved new fees for the Building Department, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, after a Public Hearing at which one person spoke. New fees were effective as of August 14
• Held a 35-minute executive session
• Approved the appointment of Anthony Cidras as deputy highway superintendent at $1,500 per year
• Appointed Amy Davison to the ZBA to replace Steven Bathrick, who resigned as of September 1. Ms. Davison will serve his term, to the end of 2021
• Approved a $175,000 bond to be filed by Primax Properties during the construction of the Dollar General store on Route 9G. Town Attorney Corinne Smith said that she was satisfied that the bond would protect the town during this construction
• Learned that the state Department of Transportation had denied the town’s request to lower the speed limit on Route 9G near the intersection with County Route 8. While there have been 23 accidents there in the last three years, DOT found no pattern to the crashes; it will post “reduced speed ahead” signs to alert drivers when the speed goes from 55 MPH to 45
• Learned that the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance had certified the town’s final equalization rate at 85%. Suzette Booy, director of the county Real Property Tax Service Agency, will be invited to make a presentation on the town’s conducting revaluation in 2019, which would be used beginning with 2020 school taxes and 2021 county taxes. “Just getting the reassessment done doesn’t mean taxes change,” said Mr. Beaury. “It means an update of data”
• Learned from Mr. Beaury that he, along with a Greenway representative and a member of the town’s Waterfront Advisory Committee, would probably meet soon with Amtrak officials regarding proposed fences and gates along the river. Mr. Beaury said he would report at the Town Board’s September meeting
• Approved filing an application for a Hudson River Valley Greenway grant for the Ice Dock project on the town’s riverfront
• Adopted the Columbia County Multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan
• Heard a presentation from Hon. Dr. Carrie A. O’Hare, town justice of Stuyvesant and head of the county’s Magistrates Association, about perpetual plaques she is preparing for each municipality as a historical record of their justices. Germantown first had a justice of the peace in 1786; 35 were appointed to 1830, when the position became elected. In 1967 state legislation changed the title to town justice. Six Germantown justices, past and present, took part in a thank-you ceremony
• Discussed with resident Ellen Jouret-Epstein the opportunity to do a 9G corridor study, from the Germantown Central School to Maple Avenue. “This needs the whole town to be together,” she said. “We all want the same thing, but we’ve been coming out on opposite sides. We all have to participate in a facilitated process. Other zoning is minor, but the 9G corridor is crucial.” Ms. Jouret-Epstein offered to research funding sources and planners and draft a timeline. Mr. Beaury said he would put her on the October meeting agenda.
The next town board meeting is Tuesday, September 11 at 7 p.m. At 8:46 that morning the town will observe its annual memorial to 9/11 at Palatine Park.