Voting gets easier and costlier too

HUDSON—Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed new voting reforms into law, but exactly how they will play out in practice still remains to be seen.

Democratic Election Commissioner with the Columbia County Board of Elections Virginia S. Martin told The Columbia Paper this week that she expects new election laws will kick in with this year’s election season. Though she has not yet had a chance to confer with Board of Elections (BOE) staff and her fellow commissioner about the particulars, she agreed to speak about the changes “in broad strokes.”

With regard to early voting, which is just one aspect of the new reforms, Ms. Martin said New York State counties with 50,000 or fewer registered voters (Columbia County has 44,000), will be required to have one poll site open for early voting, beginning 10 days before and closing 2 days before Election Day to accommodate 8 days of early voting. Read more…

Judge slams G’town’s handling of store plan

GERMANTOWN–In a January 29, 2019 ruling Acting Supreme Court Justice Henry F. Zwack vacated the town Planning Board’s approval for a Dollar General store on Route 9G. By order of the judge, the site plan for the store must now go before the town Zoning Board of Appeals, which will determine whether the project complies with town zoning laws.

The case was originally brought by seven Germantown residents: Carol Neville, Karen Targrove, Angela Olszewski, Douglas Trapp, William Kimmel, Arthur Cady and Elizabeth Cawley. They filed it as an Article 78 action, asking the court to overrule the Planning Board’s approval of the application by Primax Properties, LLC to build the store.

The judge found three of the petitioners lacked standing to participate in the case and two others withdrew, but Ms. Neville and Mr. Cady were found to have a standing by way of owning property adjacent to the proposed Dollar General store location, 4301 Route 9G, just north of the intersection with county Route 8. Read more…

CLC secures grants for at-risk farms

CHATHAM – Two Columbia County farms have been awarded state grants that will play a critical role in protecting 312 acres of important farmland under conservation easement and enable these farm families to invest in the future of their businesses. These awards are part of $35 million in Farmland Protection Grants that will protect 13,000 acres of farmland across the state of New York.

“We’re incredibly pleased that these grants have been awarded,” Columbia Land Conservancy Executive Director Peter Paden said in a press release. “These grants will ensure the viability of a new generation of family operations that exemplify the county’s agricultural heritage.”

Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) submitted successful applications on behalf of the Saulpaugh and Grimaldi farm families for New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (NYSDAM FPIG) awards, which will be distributed once the families work with CLC to complete these projects and permanently protect their farms. The FPIG awards are made possible by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. The Scenic Hudson Land Trust is working closely with CLC on the Saulpaugh project and will contribute funds to match the state award. Read more…

Solid waste chief: You can’t recycle every piece of plastic

HUDSON–County Solid Waste Department Director Jolene Race attended the county’s Environmental Management Council (EMC) meeting this week to talk about recycling and why county residents are now paying for the privilege.

The EMC was created by the Board of Supervisors to advise “on present and proposed methods of using, protecting, and conserving the environment for the benefit of all the people,” according to the group’s page on the county website.

At the start of the new year, for the first time, the county set a fee for residents who use the solid waste stations for recycling. Now when people bring their paper, glass, metal and plastic to any county solid waste station to be recycled, they need a permit. The window sticker permits are available at several town halls and also at the waste stations. The cost for the permit is $50 a year or $35 for residents 65 and older; they cost $100 for out-of-county residents. Read more…

Hudson’s low rise housing not slated for rehab

HUDSON–Two meetings January 17 focused on plans to construct two four-story income-restricted residential buildings in Hudson across State Street from Bliss Tower.

The first meeting, run by the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA), was for the HHA Board of Commissioners to approve a Master Development Agreement related to the construction. The second, run by the Hudson Common Council’s Economic Development Committee, was for a developer to present the envisioned construction to the committee.

The Master Development Agreement is between the HHA and a development team—Property Resources Corporations (PRC) of White Plains and Duvernay + Brooks, a real estate development and finance consulting firm in Manhattan. The agreement allows the HHA and the companies to continue exploring a partnership with each other for construction and the HHA’s upcoming conversion from public housing program to a public-private partnership. This agreement is preliminary and either partner could drop out without penalty. Read more…