GERMANTOWN—The town was recently awarded a $75,000 grant from the New York State Department of State to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), and at its monthly meeting Tuesday, March 10, the Town Board appointed Jen Crawford chair of the town LWRP committee.
The committee will prepare a comprehensive land and water use plan that identifies valuable waterfront resources and outlines the means to make them more resilient to future threat while attracting appropriate development to the area. Once the state approves an LWRP, state agency actions are required to be consistent with the local plan to the maximum extent practicable. When the federal government concurs with the incorporation of an LWRP into the state’s Coastal Management Program (CMP), federal agency actions must be consistent with the town’s waterfront program.
An approved LWRP might affect Amtrak’s plans to install impasse fences and gates at the Ernest R. Lasher Jr. Memorial Park, lower Main Street, and Cheviot Landing, both of which are in Germantown. The board also discussed and approved reestablishing a Waterfront Advisory Committee and appointed Christina Bohnsack chair. That committee will monitor issues relating to Amtrak, as well as the potential extension of the seawall at Lasher Park and continued mitigation of invasive water chestnuts along the river.
In a related matter, town Supervisor Robert Beaury discussed his participation in a community information meeting in the Greene County community of Athens on March 1. The meeting presented information on a proposed construction and demolition (C&D) debris processing facility on the Hudson River at 133 North Washington Street in Athens.
Athens Stevedoring & Environmental Development LLC wants to process just under 500 tons of “rock, asphalt and concrete” per day, limiting scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and avoiding regulation under the current zoning laws in Athens.
“I am concerned about the environmental impact this project will have on our neighbors upriver west and east and the potential impact on our town,” Mr. Beaury said, adding, “While I am mindful of the need for this type of work, I am opposed to it occurring on the banks of the Hudson river. I have asked our Waterfront Committee to make contact with their counterparts in the Village of Athens to monitor the situation.”
In addition to potentially toxic airborne particulates and contaminated runoff, the facility would foster a significant increase in barge traffic along the river, affecting communities in both Greene and Columbia counties. On March 25, the Athens Village Board is scheduled to hold a virtual public hearing regarding a proposed moratorium on special use permits and site plan review in the waterfront and mixed use waterfront zones while they complete a comprehensive plan update already underway, one that would potentially prohibit projects such as a C&D processing facility.
Village residents have created a petition requesting that the DEC exercise due diligence in determining whether permits for this project are necessary and may require a thorough State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). The petition may be viewed at Change.org.
Also at the March 10 meeting:
• Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner presented information about REAL ID. As of October 1, 2020, a standard drivers license will no longer be sufficient identification to board a domestic flight or to enter military bases and certain federal facilities. Residents without a passport or Enhanced ID are encouraged to upgrade before October. Call the county clerk (518 828-3339) or the Department of Motor Vehicles to make an appointment
• In January the board solicited bids for the replacement of the roof on the town salt storage shed. Several bids were submitted and presented at the meeting. The board moved to approve a bid by ACT Construction in the amount of $39,950
• Members of the board discussed amending the town’s No Smoking Policy to include electronic cigarettes and extend smoke-free areas to all town premises. Article 13 of the state public health law prohibits smoking, including electronic cigarettes, in all public buildings and playgrounds, but not on the town grounds. The town attorney advised board members that they should take time to consider how they “want to define the area above and beyond what the law prohibits.” Any policy change must be reviewed by the union before the board can approve it
• Regarding the 2020 Census, Councilmember Sarah Suarez stated that 50% of Germantown residents had already self-reported, although the national average is 65.4%. Ms. Suarez continued, “It is important as a community that we take the census seriously because it does affect how we are seen as a community, in terms of funding and representation.”
As of Tuesday, March 17, the Town Board has canceled “all committee and board meetings at Town Hall and large gatherings at the Activity Center.” The following events have been canceled:
Zoning Board Meeting on March 19, 2020
LWRP committee meeting on March 23, 2020
Board Workshop on March 24, 2020
Planning Board Meeting on March 26, 2020
Germantown Economic Development Committee meeting on March 27, 2020
Germantown Farmer’s Market on March 28, 2020
Spring Mixer at the Central House on April 1, 2020
Pancake Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt on April 5, 2020.