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July 14, 2014
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Towns bring legal experts to region


Two New York towns—Highland and Lumberland—have teamed up to learn how to pursue possible legal protections against the impacts of natural gas extraction and have invited two legal firms specializing on the topic to present information to the public on February 19 at the Eldred Central School.

“Gas drilling is a hot topic right now,” said Glen Goldstein, member of the Highland Planning Board and chair of Highland’s new energy and environment committee. “Our job is to get smarter and to report back to the town what we learn.

Our first step is to bring in two lawyers with very different opinions, who specialize in this field. We’re not trying to pick a winner, rather, to listen and to learn everything we can. We’ll also be looking at whether any changes need to be made to the town’s master plan as it pertains to this issue.”

A public session will be held in the morning with lawyers from the Community Environmental Defense Council and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, followed by a town work session later that day. “We welcome other towns to attend and learn along with us,” added Goldstein.

The Town of Highland has also been involved in an effort to improve access to town businesses. “What can change so that businesses can thrive in this county?” asked Sullivan County planning commissioner Luiz Aragon at the Highland town meeting on January 11. It’s a question that Aragon and others are attempting to address with a new signage strategy to promote local business called the Business Wayfinding System.

“People must be able to find the businesses,” said Aragon. “We’re not talking about uncontrolled signage, but a system that is uniform, understandable and useful.” A team consisting of the Barryville Chamber of Commerce, Sullivan Renaissance and Highland Renaissance has been working with town resident and designer Dorene Warner to develop the signage.

“We did a lot of research to see what other towns have done, with a strong local model at Bethel Center for the Performing Arts,” said Aragon. “The businesses will pay to be on the signs, which will help to maintain them.”

Carol Roig of Highland Renaissance added, “Signage kept coming up in earlier visioning sessions, the issue of capturing casual visitors, since the byway is a main artery into the area. If your business is not on the byway, how do people find it?”