The regular meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Mount Hope was held at Town Hall on December 5, 2016 at 7:30pm with the following present: Supervisor Chad Volpe, Councilman Matt Howell, Councilman Brian Carey, Councilwoman Janet Sutherland, Councilman Dominick Cambareri and Town Clerk Kathleen Myers.
OFFICIALS PRESENT: D. Hassenmayer–H’way Supt., Lt. P. Freeman, D. Bavoso-Attorney.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Supervisor Volpe called the public hearing for the Fire Protection Contract to order at 7:37pm.
PUBLIC HEARING FOR FIRE PROTECTION CONTRACT:
Supervisor Volpe opened the public hearing. The public notice is on the table. He received a few calls today. He clarified that on Sept. 19th the contract was awarded to the V/O Otisville by a 4-1 vote. Tonight this is just on the language of the contract. There are copies on the table. This is on payments arrangements, the amount of liability the village must have, what the town expects of the village and what the village expects of the town. No one from audience had comments or questions. Board had no comments or questions. Attorney: everything looks good to me.
RESOLUTION TO CLOSE PUBLIC HEARING:
MOTION offered by Councilman Carey 2nd by Councilman Howell to close public hearing at 7:41pm. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Cambareri; NAY – Sutherland; carried.
RESOLUTION TO AUTHORIZE TOWN SUPERVISOR TO SIGN FIRE PROTECTION CONTRACT:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to authorize the Town Supervisor to sign the fire protection contract with the Village of Otisville. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Cambareri; NAY – Sutherland; carried.
RESOLUTION TO ACCEPT PRIOR MEETING MINUTES:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Carey to approve the minutes from Nov. 21, 2016 as presented. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
- Mount Hope Fire report 12-5-2016
- Email from Alan McDowell re: fire contract
- Email from Bob & Blanche Beebe re: fire contract
- Email from Steve Skye re: fire contract
- Budget modifications from supervisor’s office
- Palmer’s Ark impound report November 2016
- Copy of the fire contract
- Highway dept. budget modifications from Supervisor’s office
- Snow/ice agreement with Town of Wallkill
- Building Dept. report 11-2016
- Proposed building dept. fees schedule for 2017
- Complaint re: 10 Kirchner Lane
Councilman Howell: planning board meeting 12-21 at 7pm. Supervisor asked Janet to talk to planning board about being more transparent ie: getting agendas on to website. Councilwoman Sutherland will speak to them.
Councilman Carey went with Matt on the 29th to OC Town, Cities, Village meeting in Montgomery. He spoke re: County Executive art, heritage & tourism grant 2016-2017. Made the Dec. 1st deadline. We need 2 things to fulfill this grant. One is for Kathleen. They need a copy of our incorporation paperwork. Maybe somewhere in our minutes since we were incorporated in 1825. He asked the county clerk’s office. They don’t have it on record. To fulfill this grant, we need to come up with something for our incorporation paperwork. Kathleen will look. Councilman Carey: and we need authorization for a resolution for this. He thanked Julie, Angie & Chad for their help.
Councilwoman Sutherland: no report.
Councilman Cambareri: retaining wall is almost done at Devan’s Gate. They are ready for recap stone. They backfilled it. They have to finish a little concrete work.
Councilman Carey met with the school committee on Saturday to do the tour. He added that the grant would actually double our money for the grant program. It’s up to $5,000. It would double what the program currently has. Supervisor asked attorney if he’s heard from the LLC attorney. Bavoso: no but I was on vacation after the holiday.
Supt. Hassenmayer: Nothing new on the agenda.
MOUNT HOPE FIRE COMPANY: Report read by Chief Masters.
Lt. Freeman: No report.
VILLAGE OF OTISVILLE:
Trustee Loeven reminded everyone that the patriot tree lighting is Wednesday at 5:30. Light refreshments will be at village hall.
Councilman Howell stated that he put a call in to Supervisor Depew and hasn’t heard back yet from him. He will follow up.
Supervisor Volpe: the property that the town bought a couple months ago that the state wants -he received a follow up letter from the DEC. They have already started everything on their end. If everything works out, they’d like to have a closing in spring 2017.
PROPOSED SNOW/ICE AGREEMENT WITH TOWN OF WALLKILL:
Supt. Hassenmayer: as far as I can see, it mirrors the contract we have with the county. The rate is the same as the county. We are right there, we might as well do it. We did it this morning for the 1st time. It’s 2 cul-de-sacs. Doesn’t add a whole lot of time to the route. Supervisor: we don’t need additional people? Supt.: no. Supervisor asked the board members if they received it? Councilman Cambareri: it’s only a short distance, correct? Supt.: yes. Further explained that since 9/11 happened we have taken over Mapes Road and Wallkill has taken over Highland Lakes Road. There was a development built off Mapes Road which is dedicated to Wallkill now. They want us to take care of that. They are willing to pay us for the section. It’s under a mile. He is in favor of it.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE SNOW/ICE AGREEMENT WITH TOWN OF WALLKILL:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Carey to approve the snow & ice agreement with the Town of Wallkill as presented. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
BUILDING DEPARTMENT FEE SCHEDULE FOR 2017:
Supervisor Volpe stated that last meeting he gave everyone copies of the proposed building department fee schedule for 2017. Most fees stayed the same. Some that weren’t on there are on there now. He would like to make this effective Jan. 1st. Councilman Cambareri added that there is one more change; C/O searches are going from $75 to $100.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE NEW BUILDING DEPARTMENT FEE SCHEDULE FOR 2017:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to approve the new fee schedule with the noted change. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT BUDGET MODIFICATIONS:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to approve the following budget modifications:
FROM: D5130.2 TO: Cap Highway Eq. $67499.00
FROM: D5140.2 TO: Cap Highway Eq. $501.00
FROM: D5142.2 TO: Cap Highway Eq. $20325.00.
All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Cambareri; NAY – Sutherland; carried.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE BUDGET MODIFICATIONS FROM SUPERVISOR’S OFFICE:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to approve the following budget modifications:
Decrease A1990.4 Contingency by $204.50 – Increase A1440.4 Engineer by $204.50 AND
Decrease A1990.4 Contingency by $120.00 – Increase A4010.4 Board of Health A/C by $120.00.
All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION TO APPLY FOR COUNTY TOURISM GRANT:
MOTION offered by Councilman Carey 2nd by Councilman Howell to approve applying for the county tourism grant for the 2017 concert series. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
SOLAR LAW – MORATORIUM:
Supervisor Volpe asked the attorney where we stand with the solar. Attorney: if we are late doing it then we’d have to do it retroactively. You do have the ability to put into place one more 3 month extension on the moratorium. Did that expire between the last meeting and this meeting? Supervisor: we missed it last meeting. Councilwoman Sutherland: I thought it ran out in October. Attorney: I believe the initial one did then the extension was granted. He will look at the minutes. Supervisor: either way it resorts back to the day it expired? Attorney: if you pass it tonight then yes. There is someone that wants to speak to you this evening. John Cappello (Jacobowitz & Gubitz): He came on behalf of Borrego Solar. Borrego is working with the town and the comprehensive plan committee and with Mr. Pierson to develop a solar facility on the Pierson farm. They have all the approvals they need. To go through rigorous review with the utility companies – Rob Garrity will explain that process. There are not a lot of parcels that have the appropriate access to the utilities and once you have that application there are time frames associated with it. There are also grants and subsidies available for this project to make it affordable and a great project for the town that run out soon. We appreciate your diligence in working on solar. We are at the end of the rope. If we don’t process this application fairly soon, there may not be an application and that would be a shame. Given all that you’ve been reading about climate change and utility and fracking and pipelines going through everywhere, this is a safe and efficient use of energy. Absolutely minimal to zero impacts to your municipality. It’s not gonna leak, explode. It’s not gonna take down the hill or create any fracking wells. It’s a non-impact no nuisance way to generate electricity with no emissions that is a great benefit to not just the town but to the world. Lessens our dependence on oil. It’s encouraged in NYS. There’s a lot of programs available to provide it. If these panels were to be removed the land would revert to what it was used as before. Mr. Pierson intends to not only farm the land around the solar panels and intends to graze sheep in the area where the panels are located. I understand you’re considering a moratorium. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Bavoso. I think once it’s expired – it’s expired and you would have to go through a procedure and have a public hearing. We are not here to argue that. We ask that if you proceed with moratorium, that during the time of the moratorium we be allowed to process the application at the planning board. Supervisor asked Dominick & Matt how far we are with the master plan. Councilman Cambareri: still in the phase of where we are talking about the master plan itself. We haven’t addressed zoning yet. We have a public hearing coming up pretty soon about the master plan for the town. Right now this is not covered in our zoning. We need to know from our residents – is this something you want in a residential agriculture zone, industrial zone, commercial zone. We have no laws on the books about that yet. We are in process of writing the laws. We’ve had a couple laws given to us (laws passed around the state) to be used as guidelines. We are not in the phase of putting a law into effect. That follows the step we are in now. That should follow the master plan. The next phase is changing some of the zoning. What do you wanna allowed and/or restricted in some of the zones? Our zoning is very outdated. It addresses solar as far as residential. But nothing on the books for commercial solar. This project would be the largest solar project in Orange County by 12-13x the one that’s there. Town of Wallkill is only 2 megawatts and this is how many – 30? Mr. Garrity: This gonna be 80 but you’re allowed to do multiple projects that are 2 megawatts that are side by side. Cambareri: it’s something we haven’t addressed yet. In my opinion we should hold off until we let the people decide what it is they want in their town. Councilman Howell: we have been provided 3 sample laws from areas in the state as well as the NYS model solar law. We asked for more comparables because there were members of the committee that had quite a few questions on some areas not covered in certain samples that were provided. The committee still has unanswered questions on that. Mr. Cappello: We’d be happy to come to the committee. There’s a couple things – you actually do have a commercial solar law. You did file a local law and had public hearing and it’s adopted. I’m not asking you to not go through the process. The issue here is you’re looking at your entire town’s zoning and entire comprehensive plan. If that process – could legitimately take to re-write an antiquated code, I’ve been through it – I represent municipalities. It could take 6 months to a year and if that’s the case then this project opportunity is gonna go away because you can’t wait 6 months – a year. We are not adverse to holding a public hearing and hearing what the people have to say on any proposed law or modifications to a law you already have on the books. We are asking that that be done in an expedited manner. I know you’re planning consultant who is advising the committee – I’m sure they can advise the committee accordingly.
Rob Garrity (Borrego Solar): We applied last Friday for a site plan review in looking at Local Law 4 of Mount Hope that was for solar by-law that includes under section ‘F’- large scale solar projects. Our project meets that. In the by-law for large scale solar that’s on the books now, and our impression is that the moratorium is over ; it does include a public site plan review. There is an opportunity for people to come weigh in on this project. The Otisville sub-station is not a large one. The lines run from Otisville out Pierson Hill Road. We’d be interconnecting with that circuit. It’s not a massive substation. One of the benefits of this project is that you’re gonna have most of the capacity for projects of this scale at the Pierson site, if you do that. Whereas, there’s a whole change of the tariffs right now & if we don’t move forward & we can move forward without the by-law being in place, then we can lose the project. If that happens, we’re gonna have a lot of smaller projects than what would be happening at Pierson’s across the town.
We can’t order our cue position with Orange & Rockland. Another benefit John didn’t mention – there’s tax revenue. On the south side of Pierson’s you wouldn’t even see the project from the road. On the north side we could probably do adequate screening. We are here to work with you. Supervisor: none of that property would be agriculture anymore? Garrity: not as far as the taxing because most of the revenue form the property would come from the solar lease. So it would be taken out of the ag exemption. We pay the ag chargebacks on that. We’d be paying at the commercial rate. Supervisor: Per the assessor unless it is sub-divided it wouldn’t stay in the ag exemption. Garrity: that’s part of our application to sub-divide each of the parcels. Supervisor: so it would be a separate section, block & lot. If you’re saying there could only be one – possibly two of these in the whole entire town, all of this time & energy that we’ve spent on the master plan, this is gonna dictate where the large scale solar is gonna be to a committee that’s put a couple hundred hours into it. I haven’t been involved. These guys have been involved. They worked 100’s of hours on trying to get a feel for what everyone in the community wants. You said yourself there’s only a few spots of the whole town. You’re gonna dictate to us where the large scale solar is gonna be. Cappello: it’s not us – it’s the substation. If there are improvements made by O&R in the future, there would be more. You’re not going to get an influx of these. You may get one or 2. This is a unique presentation. I can email you 3 laws we have in the system. The county planning department can give you comments on it. We are asking you to allow us this opportunity. Councilman Cambareri asked about the 4 parcels they want to sub-divide off and cover with solar panels – how many acres will that be? Garrity: about 44. Cambareri: all to be covered with panels? Garrity: About 1/3 will be covered by solar due to setback and no shading. Supervisor asked the attorney if we’d be able to talk to the master plan committee and perhaps get them…Bavoso: they meet on the 13th at 5:00 just in regard to what was said – if that really did expire in October then Mr. Cappello is right, the applicant could bring in an application under the existing law. If they are willing to work with us & come to meeting on the 13th, we might have another one at the end of the month or early January as well. I don’t see any harm in coming to talk to them. Garrity: happy to do that. We find that most of the by-laws that come out we conform easily to them. Councilwoman Sutherland asked the attorney if it expired then they can go ahead and do this? Bavoso: yes. They can bring the application under the existing law. Sounds to me they are expressing they would bring it under that law but also work with us as to the laws we are hoping to develop. Seems like there will be a great deal of cooperation. There is an existing solar law on the books. The moratorium was specific to commercial which essentially this is. And it’s covered by that law so they can bring an application to the planning board. Garrity wanted to point out that though it’s considered commercial, it’s owned by a 3rd party that is a for profit entity; the entities that get the credit for the kilowatt hours produced are all residential. Residents can actually buy credits from the system. It’s called community solar in NY. Cambareri: there’s so much to digest. I don’t wanna put the cart before the horse. I don’t wanna say hey we’re gonna do commercial solar here, here & here without their opinion. There’s a regulation on the books now that’s the moratorium. We haven’t gotten the public opinion on what they want to do.
Cappello: there was a public hearing for the law. We’d be willing – the planning board would have to hold the public hearing – if you want us to do a public information meeting – we’d be happy to do that. This is important. Sutherland: I don’t feel the least bit pressured. You have been to several meetings. She asked Mr. Pierson what happens with this? How does it affect your farm? How does it affect you as a farmer if this project doesn’t go through? Mr. Pierson: It’s probably going to perpetuate my farm – the view for 60 years. Never gonna have to sell any more land. I’ll be able to farm and the view around will always be like that. If I can get this project, I want to take my home farm and I wanna put that in the PDR. I want to preserve that. I want to stay there. I was born & raised here. My parents are buried there. Councilman Howell asked Mr. Garrity you said the solar panels would be owned by a 3rd party company. What happens when they say they’re going somewhere else? What happens with the panels? Is it the property owners responsibility? Garrity spoke of a decommissioning bond for this purpose. It’s held in escrow where you can activate on that bond. It’s for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The town is not liable for it. If we’re not maintaining the system – then you can say we’re acting on this bond which is in your control, we’re pulling the system out. I can bring you in the form of security. Bavoso: happens a lot with roads and sub-divisions. Discussion. Supervisor asked the attorney for his recommendation. Bavoso: let them come to the meeting on the 13th. They’re only asking to begin the process they’re not looking for any type of approval at the moment. It’s been mentioned this will have to go through considerable review but the town engineers, Glenn & myself and others; I don’t see an issue with them there on the 13th then the planning board on the 21st. He will look at past minutes to make sure that the moratorium time has run. If so then I don’t see a mechanism for bringing that back without starting a whole new moratorium process. We can work on the structure as far as proceeding. Mr. Selg: in the beginning you explained the value and advantages to having the solar system to collect energy. You related that to comparisons oil explorations, fracking could you give us one down side to the solar panel? Garrity: some people don’t like the way it looks. Supervisor asked the board members what they are thinking. Sutherland doesn’t see a problem. Carey looks forward to the meeting on the 21st. Howell: comprehensive plan committee has a lot of specific questions to get an answer on with projects of these scales. Cambareri: we don’t have the opinion of the people yet. It’s their town we are just the ones facilitating it for them. Everything we do is their opinion. My fear is getting a project started that they decide it’s not something that they want. Then there is no way to stop it. Supervisor asked attorney Bavoso if the planning board still has control over everything.
Bavoso: there is a law on the books; they’d still have to comply with everything in that law if they went straight through the planning board process. They’re proposing to go above and beyond at this point and also the planning board has leeway to require potentially more than 1 public hearing. There’s a lot of procedure that would go into it. This is really jumping off point and it sounds like this potential applicant is happy to work with the planning board and the town. They can come on the 13th.
RESOLUTION TO AUDIT THE CLAIMS:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Carey to audit the claims as follows:
GENERAL A: #709-750 $ 83,558.75
GENERAL B: #151-154 $ 3,428.17
HIGHWAY: #180-188 $ 21,764.48
SEWER: #93-97 $ 4,908.31
MOUNT HOPE FIRE: #2 $ 3,985.63.
All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
Frank Ketcham: in regards to allowing them to continue in the process of bringing in the most passive energy system that there could be here to our town. There’s no reason to not allow them to be in the application process. If you finally eliminate this – you can drop the job. If you rule against it – it’ll never be. When you put those propane tanks down along 211, was there a concern for the public? I think the power lines pass right by there. When those propane tanks blow up and cut off his electric service it’s gonna be a terrible thing. This is something that should have been planned for. Was it in the zoning originally? I’ve heard you’re gonna get a bigger system now & put in more propane tanks. Is that true? Councilman Howell: we’ve been in the T/O Wallkill for almost 30 with no incidents. We’re gonna bring that same safety record over here. Site plan approval, if you were at the planning board when the project was in motion & approved – allows for 1 more storage tank to be installed at a future date at a total capacity, the additional tank to be 1,000 gallons. Whoever you told about putting in more & expanding, that’s not the plan. It was approved. Ketcham: you said it’s a part of – to get bigger yet. Howell: it was approved in the site plan approval by the planning board at the time of the application. So whoever told you we’re gonna expand and put more in that’s not the case. Ketcham: is it there yet? Howell: no the 3rd tank was approved for future installation. Ketcham: expanding; Another energy source that does cause problems. I would rather have a passive solar system. Howell: people don’t get electrocute and die? Ketcham: I think they should be allowed to continue in the process while you work on the master plan.
Jerry Cook (to Councilman Carey): for the 1825 document – maybe the historical society might be able to help. As far as these men are proposing, it’s a marvelous idea. We have a planning board process. We have a law. Why can’t we go down to the ZBA? And just get the thing done. Mr. Pierson’s property is not really gonna impact the rest of the town. We should do everything we can to help support him. RE: Indigot Reservoir: he spoke about property assessment values. If you gotta get a system where you gotta get sulfur out of the water, it impacts your sale-ability. He would to get an environmental impact statement. It could impact the entire town.
Ken Pinkela: thank you for letting us into the building. Got a lot of feed back from the old teachers. It’s really starting to rally the funding sources for us. In the former life I was the official representative for the ARMY to the solar farms in the commonwealth of Virginia and in Hawaii. These plans are comprehensive and clean. I am also a residential solar owner. I appreciate the zoning has been out of date. My grandfather sat there and they fought that years ago. We cannot miss the opportunity to let them at least start the application. Let the planning board work it through. Please consider that.
Wayne Melton is in favor of letting the planning board do what they need to do. Follow the local law. If it needs to be changed, then change it. If not, why hold it up? It’s a golden opportunity for the area. You had a walk through. How did it go? Supervisor: very well. Melton: did you get all the certificates? Supervisor: I got everything that was asked for. Melton: the same ladder certificate that we got? Their flow-pump test? Copy of their fitness for duty? They’re all compliant? Supervisor: yes. Melton: one of the town councilmen made a statement when asked at a meeting that I wasn’t at, said that it wasn’t their job to check to make sure things were right. I went through the bid and the winning fire company responded, in a year, 34 medical calls; had an EMT at 5 of them. 29 calls in black & white, in the bid that was submitted. You all with the exception of 1 said it was good. They failed 29 calls. You missed it. That’s unacceptable. They’re gonna be doing 180 medical runs. That’s our family. It’s deplorable.
Mary Maurizzio thinks it’s deplorable the way the Mount Hope fire company was formed in the first place. That’s deplorable. She saw the ad in the paper today. Thinks that is deplorable. She thinks it’s backstabbing, under handed. They should come face to face with reality. You guys are out. You’re firefighters. You wanna fight fires, you wanna save people go join a company.
Councilman Carey thanked Dean for the lights on the tree. Supt. Hassenmayer asked the board to consider switching to the large, old fashioned lights.
Councilman Cambareri thanked Dean & the guys. He has information on sound panels for the senior center.
Councilwoman Sutherland asked if there was a way to fix the floors over there. They are a mess. Can they be buffed? Cambareri: they need to be cleaned again. There’s a few sticky spots. Sutherland noted that when she does a check of the center after a function it doesn’t seem that they are clean. There are scuffs and scrapes. Hassenmayer reminded the board to check the chairs for the foam rubber feet after a function. He’s seen odd ball chairs there & believes they are scratching them up. Discussion. Cambareri asked if the WIFI was connected. Supervisor: yes. Ms. Loeven will check the seniors that use the 8-10 bridge chairs and she will check the feet on them to be sure the rubber is on them.
Supervisor Volpe asked David for an executive session for the issue with C/O Middletown. He added that his brother lives right up the road and unfortunately has a terminal disease and probably won’t be around for long. 3 weeks ago on Saturday he called 911. Otisville was there in 3 ½ minutes. Police came about 45 seconds later. Practice what you preach. I saw the text come through on my phone before I could get from Hidden Valley over there. He was already there and surrounded by 1st responders. I’m really happy with that.
RESOLUTION TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION:
MOTION offered by Councilman Cambareri 2nd by Councilman Howell to enter into executive session at 8:46pm for litigation with City of Middletown with the Indigot Creek. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION TO RECONVENE REGULAR SESSION FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Carey to reconvene regular session from executive session at 9:06pm. NO ACTION WAS TAKEN AT THIS EXECUTIVE SESSION. All in favor: Howell, Carey, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
RESOLUTION FOR ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell 2nd by Councilman Carey to adjourn the meeting at 9:06pm. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
The next meeting is scheduled for December 29, 2016 at 7:30pm.
Kathleen A. Myers, RMO