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Highway law debated in Highland

By Guy Charles Harriton
December 19, 2012

With reports of the economy finally on a slight upswing and housing starts leading the way, the Town of Highland vigorously debated the merits and detrimental effects of Local Law Number Four at the town board meeting on December 11. Essentially, the law would impact large projects that would result in a significant number of truck trips, and cause the owner of those trucks to pay for any damage to local roads. Local contractors see it as infringing on their businesses in particular and the economy in general.

Board member James Gutekunst spoke what seemed to be the sentiments of other members of the board when he said, “The law may have unintended consequences down the road. It may prove to be a clunker of a law.”

Board member Fred Bosch stated that other towns in the area are further along with their assessments of the controversial law and said that receiving some input from them might impact how the board ultimately votes on the law.

Local contractor Chuck Petersheim was not so diplomatic. “The intent of the law is to restrict gas drilling, but it will have a strong effect on real estate development,” adding it will hurt the economy in the Town of Highland. He said that if the law is passed, it may be used for “political harassment,” and went on to say it may pit neighbor against neighbor.

In describing how it is to be determined which traffic will have to pay for road damage and which will not, the law refers to program and technical manuals developed by Delta Engineering and law firm Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna. The manuals are several hundred pages long and not readily understood by laymen. The law itself is 12 pages, and critics contend is too vague.

The vote was tabled by the board until further notice. A similar law was passed by the Town of Tusten the previous week.

In other business before the board, commander Peter D. Carmeci, of the Tusten Highland Lumberland VFW Post 6427, said that care packages would be sent to over 100 soldiers from a unit deployed to Afghanistan that the town is sponsoring.

Supervisor Andrew Boyar applauded the effort and called for additional work to be done. “Drivers can have yellow stickers on their cars supporting our troops, but this is more tangible.” He urged the scouts, seniors and the entire town to get involved.

“With these care packages, the troops feel less isolated,” he said, urging people to begin letter-writing campaigns and donate non-perishable goods. He applauded Carmeci’s effort to send sports magazines and local newspapers to keep the troops’ spirits up.