Board still has tweaks in mind for Comprehensive Plan

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.” Read more…

County budget meets state cap, offers some relief

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2018 County Budget at its December 13, 2017 meeting. The budget calls for spending $149.9 million, of which $42.5 million (28%) is expected to come from the tax levy. The 2018 tax levy will be $769,500 higher than for last year, an increase of 1.84%.

Comparing 2018 with 2017, the sewer district’s appropriation increase, from $669,000 to $4.2 million, stands out. The reason relates to principal and interest on debt service serial bonds. The total sewer district appropriation remains less than 3% of the total budget.

In a letter to the public following passage of the budget and dated December 14, Matt Murell (R-Stockport), chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wrote, “This budget has been composed with no cuts in services for residents, no reduction in programs, and no county work force reduction while, importantly, the county remains attuned to the needs of those who may face adverse personal situations…. This budget enables the county to continue its commitment to Columbia-Greene Community College, as well as …[purchasing] a new emergency services training center for our volunteer firemen and emergency service workers.” Read more…

Chatham gets a light, drivers get a break

CHATHAM–The Town Board reviewed plans from the town’s engineering firm for the traffic lights on the Albany Turnpike Bridge at the last meeting of the year December 22. There will be one traffic light at the entrance to the bridge from Route 295 and another light at the entrance from Old Chatham.

Town Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert showed the meeting audience the plans, which would also extend the sidewalk from the bridge. When asked by a town resident about ownership of the bridge, which was replaced by the CSX rail company, Mr. Rickert said, “It doesn’t have anything to do with the ownership of the bridge…That’s still an outlying issue.”

CSX has been negotiating with the Town Board to have the town take ownership of the bridge since the company demolished an old, wider bridge at the site and completed construction of the new one-lane replacement bridge in 2014. The board did not believe that CSX had addressed the vehicle safety issue at the bridge intersection. Read more…

He sniffed, he ran, they found him

GALLATIN—When a Saint Bernard named Caesar got the urge to do some roamin’ in the recent sub-zero weather, an army of concerned citizens wielding social media and cell phones aided in his safe return home.

Caesar, just a puppy at 10-months of age and 90 pounds, went into his backyard off Church Road in Jackson Corners Christmas morning to find four to five inches of fresh, fluffy snow.

He lifted his nose to sniff the air, caught a scent and suddenly took off. Read more…

Together, Clermont residents harness the sun

CLERMONT—On Wednesday, December 20, the day before the darkest day of the calendar year, Hudson Solar announced the completion of the first community solar project in Columbia County.

Some two-dozen hardy souls bundled up on that cloudy, windy day for hot chocolate, cookies and the opening festivities. Many were members of the CSA. “We call them members,” said Jeff Irish, founder and president of Hudson Solar, in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Hudson Solar, with offices in Rhinebeck and Albany, designed and built the 214-kilowatt solar installation on one acre off Route 9G. The project can accommodate up to 40 members, according to a press release. These are small businesses and households–including residential tenants–that don’t have a roof for solar or don’t want to put solar panels on their roof. Read more…