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State and Conservancy meet town

CHESTERTOWN After New York State and the Nature Conservancy addressed the Town of Chesters concerns over issues surrounding the sale of land from the Conservancy to the state, the town reversed its earlier resolution opposing the sale and voted Tuesday to endorse the transfer. After a lengthy discussion of the sale of 1,293 acres of former Finch Pruyn land, its accompanying conservation easements and how it all might effect town residents, the board endorsed the sale. The endorsement was hard-won. Representatives of both the Nature Conservancy and the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation discussed aspects of the easements, land use and access in detail with the town board members and a dozen or so local residents who attended the public hearing Tuesday on the land sale. At the June meeting, Board members vetoed the proposed plans until certain conditions were met. The Nature Conservancy then wrote a new draft resolution covering these concerns. The main request by the board was to establish access to the tract south of Riparius on the Hudson River via Friends Lake Road or Palmer Pond Rd., not East Hudson River Rd. due to its narrow width and the proximity of buildings along the road. This condition was clearly specified in the new resolution. There was also discussion of what the proposed conservation easement on the Henderson Mountain tract off Igerna Road meant. The DEC representative explained that ownership involves many different rights. The proposal for this tract is not a sale to the state, but to any party that would reserve the right of development and sustainable forest rights for the state. The party buying the land would have other rights such as the right of access, water and mineral rights. Such shared ownership rights keep the land forested and undeveloped, but does not provide general public access. Potential buyers could be recreational clubs, timber companies or other private parties agreeing to the states conditions. The town had also requested that existing snowmobile trails on the Henderson Mountain tract, not marked on state maps, would be retained. Representatives from DEC and the Conservancy pledged the trails would be kept. Officials vote to boost alternates for boards The town board passed a new local law to expand the number of alternates from a maximum of two to a limit of four for both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board. The public hearing on the issue yielded no comments. The action was taken to assure the boards could raise quorums and not be stymied by too few members showing up for their official meetings. Illegal to block abandoned roads Town Attorney Mark Schachner reported on his research regarding public access to qualified abandoned town roads. There are five such roads so designated in 1934 that allow public access but are no longer maintained by the town. He said it was illegal to block access on such roads. Access to Eton Road, off Perry Road, has been a matter of dispute by several town residents. Harold Ellsworth and John Bradway had attended the June board meeting, complaining that Art Perryman had blocked the road and denied access. Town Supervisor Fred Monroe said gating the road was not allowed, and Perryman will be sent a letter specifying this. Property claimed by separate deeds A request for a trading of quitclaims for property near the town landfill between the town and Mannuci was tabled until the town attorney could research it. There was a screw up where both deeds claim the property. The landowner needs the matter cleared up before he can build due to set-back requirements. Also the town will look into the lands owned by Pepper and Salerno below the Starback Dam which have had substantial washouts only since the dam went from one to two spillways. A plan of remedy will be proposed at the next Board meeting. Public hearing to address veteran taxes There will be a public hearing before the next regular Board meeting, August 12, on extending the partial exemption from town property taxes to veterans serving in non-war years. These gap periods have been included in county tax exemptions and Board members plan to match them for town taxes. Hyper-Reach mass notification The town board also authorized using Warren Countys Hyper-Reach mass notification phone system which can automatically and quickly dial all land-line telephones, broadcasting warnings or instructions in case of an emergency. The agreement provides for paying the county a modest per-call fee when used. Water district rates Board members were given the homework assignment to come up with recommendations to round up, simplify, but increase water district rates by the August meeting. Some residents have aired their opinions that here is no good way to spread increasingly costly water operations in the water districts, but something must be done. The issue of metered vs. non-metered users will also be discussed. Dam failure at Loon Lake In satisfaction of federal mandates, a study has been completed on the consequences of a hypothetical torrential rainfall and a dam failure at Loon Lake. The study report is now available at the town. Town Supervisor Fred Monroe will make sure a Loon Lake District representative, the schools, the rescue squads and other important parties will receive copies. Committees created Finally, two important town committees have been set up. Most members and chairs have been appointed for the Affordable Housing Committee and the Cable TV Advisory Committee.

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