Lots of issues on Highland’s horizon

By GREGORY HATTON
Posted 10/19/21

ELDRED, NY — A lot of interconnections were explored at the October 12 Town of Highland board meeting.

Globally, supply chain delays are affecting a repair to a highway department vehicle. …

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Lots of issues on Highland’s horizon

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ELDRED, NY — A lot of interconnections were explored at the October 12 Town of Highland board meeting.

Globally, supply chain delays are affecting a repair to a highway department vehicle. Statewide, Highland weighed in on proposed New York State regulations that would facilitate an increase in the stock of affordable housing by relaxing regulations on accessory dwelling units. Also statewide, the board held an information session gathering resident input on the state’s marijuana laws. Townwide, the proposal to establish an ambulance service tax district is moving along and a public hearing has been scheduled for November 9.

As part of his report, highway superintendent Tom Ebers asked that the board table the motion to get a new truck body for a defective vehicle. The vehicle is in need of a new stainless steel body. However, prices have been spiraling upward at a rapid rate, jumping $15,000 in one week with anticipated wait times that would likely be over a year. The town will proceed with the repairs needed to keep the vehicle viable, then earmark some funds to replace the body at a later, more favorable date. Town Supervisor Jeffrey Haas indicated that the town received $126,000 from an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant.

As part of his report, Haas announced the sale of the former highway barn, behind the library in Eldred. The owners intend to open a commercial endeavor and have spoken with the building department and the code office about their plans. McKean Realty was the listing and selling agent, and after its commission was paid, the town netted $195,505. In addition, further savings are expected on the cancellation of insurance policies for the building. He also indicated that the long-awaiting SAM (State and Municipal Facilities) grants were expected to be received.

The board heard from Andy Boyar about the progress on the Highland river access area. Boyar told the board that the project, which received no bids when advertised last spring, would be rebid this month. “The county planning department is very excited to do this and funding has been found. If this is accomplished, it will be a template, a showplace that other communities can aspire to. All we need is a successful bidder.” He also spoke of improvements at Heroes Park and of Yulan resident Peter Kolesar’s river-flow accomplishments that are being honored by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center.

Haas then read a letter that the Town of Highland had sent to the county to be part of the public hearing on a proposed Assembly Bill (A.4854) that would supercede the zoning codes of individual towns. The bill would allow assessory dwellings on all properties, regardless of lot size. The town wrote that this increased population density would “have significant impact on the character of rural communities.”

In continuing action to create an ambulance taxing district, the board set a public hearing on November 9 at 6:30 p.m. Town of Highland Attorney Michael Davidoff presented a resolution to proceed, pursuant to the guidelines and procedures set by the New York State Department of Health. According to Davidoff, the town will arrange for ambulance service funding through the tax base, with a contract with a local not-for-profit ambulance service. The Pinsky Law Group, retained by the town to advise them, estimated that based on operating costs incurred by other towns of Highland’s size, the maximum cost is projected at $100,000. New York State requires the resolution to state this amount, but it does not reflect what the town would actually be charged. Billings and other funding sources will offset that amount. The town’s budget line of $33,000 is consistent with its past contract with American Legion Volunteer Ambulance Service.

In other business, the town will provide constable assistance for the Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce and the Barryville Farmers’ Market, on October 23, as part of the last farmers’ market of the year. A costume parade will kick off at 11:45 a.m. in conjunction with a Trunk or Treat at the cul-de-sac on River Road in Barryville. Constables will be present from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

In other Halloween activities, theYulan Fire Department is sponsoring a Trunk or Treat on Halloween at the Yulan ballfield at 3 p.m. Bathroom facilities will be provided.

A public meeting, to provide information about the impact of the state’s new marijuana laws, was held on October 14. Nicole Allen, director of planning for the Laberge Group, answered questions about the controversial policy. While implementation of the law will be perhaps a year out, the town has a looming deadline to “opt in” or “opt out” by December 31. If the town has an objection to dispensaries or establishments for on-site consumption, they need to declare it. Then the town has to enact codes or zoning restrictions. Those can be repealed at a later date, if the town reconsiders its position.

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