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Fire law debate continues in Chester

CHESTERTOWN The public hearing on the proposed open burning ban of garbage for the Town of Chester was held at the beginning of the monthly board meeting Nov. 13. Only about six people came to speak. Three residents spoke strongly in favor of the ban. The objections of the three who spoke against the proposed law were answered by various Board members as follows: 1) The objection that the new law was unneeded because there were only a few violators in town and that state Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) should enforce the law, was met with the fact that this is actually a wide-spread issue with many complaints to the town and the DEC is non-responsive. 2) The skepticism that the law would really be enforced and by whom was addressed. Yes, there would be teeth and the constable sent around as needed. 3) It was also reinforced that burning of brush with a permit and allowable burning of paper and untreated wood are not changed with this law at all. The only change is the illegality of open burning of garbage and rubbish such as diapers, treated wood, food and plastics. When asked how one can tell the smell of wet paper vs. plastic, the audience seemed to feel the difference was notable. The public hearing on the above proposed law will be continued at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 so the town attorney can speak to its enforcement, fees and provisions. That way the public will be given one more chance to speak and board members will then vote on the law. A report was then given on the status of a mutual aid contract between the North Warren and North Creek emergency squads for the northwest section of town. Although it does not have official jurisdiction in the matter, board members expressed disappointment that this has become a turf war with conflicting personalities in which the residents served seemed to have no say. Instead of matching fire protection boundaries as the town recommended, North Warren Company has tentatively concluded a mutual assistance contract with North Creek to serve only part of the abovementioned fire protection district, leaving some of the homes out of the agreement. The board declined to bless the contract, hoping it will be adjusted. The board voted to apply for a Smart Growth Grant from the state to plan for affordable housing. Smart Growth means channeling growth into already existing hamlets, reusing existing buildings for growth, using green technology, and other plans involving renewable energy sources and sustainability of resources. A resident committee will be formed to advise board members on technology issues involving cable TV (the 10 year contract with Time Warner needs to be renewed), internet, fiber optics and extension of coverages. Anyone interested should contact Supervisor Fred Monroe. Finally, in a quiet election with no campaigning, Steve Durkish was elected to take the seat being vacated on the board by Frank Shaw. As Durkish sat in on his first Board meeting, observing, he commented that he enjoyed the quality of life in Chestertown as he grew up here and would like to maintain that for his children. Durkish is in sales with Curtis Lumber.

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