Chester Board rejects state land purchase

CHESTERTOWN The Town of Chester board voted Tuesday to oppose a planned state land purchase, to add members to its Zoning Board of Appeals and decided to repair a substandard water main in Pottersville. The Board voted to veto the proposed purchase by the state of 1,292 acres of former Finch Pruyn land in the Town of Chester now owned by the Nature Conservancy but reconsider supporting the sale if the state meets several conditions. Those conditions include that the state establish an appropriate access road into a plot along the east side of the Hudson River near Riparius, that reasonable land tax payments by the state to the town are assured, that all-terrain vehicle access to Henderson Mountain be continued, and that existing snowmobile trails not on the states new official map be properly designated. Several letters were read from people living along a one-lane dirt road along the east side of the Hudson River, saying that using the road for public access to the proposed state 750-acre Forest Preserve plot would be inappropriate and might require destruction of cabins there. The letter-writers and the board expressed support of establishing access via an entrance off Palmer Pond Rd. or Friends Lake Rd. The board also chose John Grady to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals to fill a vacancy, noting his 10 years of experience in planning and zoning issues. They designated three alternates: John McMillan, Arnold Jensen and Bill Oliver, pending approval of a new local law they endorsed to expand the number of alternates from a maximum of two to a limit of four. This proposed change, which will be the subject of a public hearing July 8, assures that ZBA meetings have a full board to make timely decisions, the board members said. The board decided to take steps to replace a section of a substandard water main serving the Marietta Knapp property and several adjacent residences in Pottersville near the Black Bear Restaurant. Water Superintendent Jason Monroe told the board the 3/4 copper pipe, installed by a contractor years ago, was so paper thin and could crushed between ones fingers. The pipe has for years been developing new leaks on a regular basis. The board voted to install new pipe up to her property line. A proposal by a neighbor of hers, who tapped into the line illegally and hasnt paid for water service for years, and is now offering to exchange excavation work to pay for the stolen water services, was rejected. The Board went behind closed doors to discuss what to do about the matter. The board also heard complaints from Harold Ellsworth and John Bradway that Art Perryman was blocking access to backwoods areas with a gate halfway across Etan Road. Off Perry Road, Etan Road is a primitive logging road that was abandoned decades ago by the town, but used regularly since by hunters, snowmobilers, hikers, all-terrain vehicle riders and cross-country skiers. The two said Perryman, who owns property at Etan Roads entrance, was allowing some people over the road and blocking others access, threatening their arrest. One such trespassing case, they said, was dismissed after it was determined that the roads qualified abandonment had effectively established permanent public access. The board voted to have their attorney Mark Schachner research the issue and report back to the board, with the intent of settling the access issue. In other matters, the board heard from Town Board member Edna Wells that a stray cat problem in Pottersville was headed toward resolution. Town Animal Control Officer Bill Mosher had picked up 25 cats that hang out on a Pottersville womans property, Wells said, and they were taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized. Four more cats remain to be picked up, and the woman will be billed for the veterinarian charges. Town Supervisor Fred Monroe said volunteers are needed to serve on a town affordable housing steering committee. He said that the lack of affordable housing had reached crisis stage in the rural Adirondacks, with people not being able to pay their mortgage payments on modest homes because of the disparity between low wages and high property values, inflated by second-home buyers. He said the additional strain of paying for heating fuel, which has recently spiraled in price, compounded the problem. In other business, the board named Mindy Conway to serve on the Warren County Youth Board, and they voted to pay her for mileage to the county municipal center for the meetings, normally held bimonthly. The board also approved resubmission of a grant application to establish a walking trail extending through downtown Chestertown to Dynamite Hill, then to North Warren Central School grounds. This proposed trail could eventually be extended to Pottersville, Word of Life Institute and on to Scaroon Manor, Monroe said. The board also voted to sell a large popcorn machine to the first person, not a town employee, who offers $50 for it. Also, they talked about removing unnecessary street lights and adding one or more at Creative Stage Lighting headquarters near Riverside. Monroe noted the town was working with state and federal officials to prepare a flood emergency response plan. He said initial calculations by the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation indicated a worst case flooding scenario of Loon Lake rising 6 feet might burst the Loon Lake Dam, which would submerge the intersection of state Rtes. 9 and 8 near downtown Chestertown under 17 feet of water. DEC is requiring the town to have an engineered flood response plan, he said. The town has set aside $23,000 to develop the plan.

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