Westport board clashes on cell tower regulation

WESTPORT It was a night of personal interests for two town board members, with Supervisor Daniel Connell and Councilman Tim Sherman bringing issues as private citizens before the board. Councilman requests land sale Sherman requested the town consider selling him a piece of property located near his home. In the letter, he asked for part of the land near the water facility so he could have a buffer zone. He said hunters were discharging rifles too close to his residence. Sherman left the room while other members of the council discuss the matter. Connell said he didnt think it would be legal to make the sale. Town property, he explained, had to be sold to the highest bidder. Councilman Ed Smith suggested the town go to the Association of Towns to get an opinion before having to hire a lawyer. Bruce Ware, a local broker attending the meeting, informed the town that Connell was legally allowed to act as an agent since he was town supervisor. The land would have to be subdivided before the sale could take place. Connell was concerned about the appearence the sale would create, since Sherman is a sitting board member. Smith, Connell and Councilman Ike Tyler decided to seek advice before pursuing the idea. Supervisor advocates for outdoor wood furnace restrictions Connell sent a letter as a private citizen April 17 to the town board, explaining that due to a business in Wadhams burning corn cobs for fuel, his wifes asthma had been seriously affected by the smoke. His wife ended up in the hospital for six days, and left with prescriptions for 12 medications. The doctors told us her asthma is now a life and death situation, he said. Connell stated it wasnt only his wife who was affected by the burning of corn cobs. I believe there are children in our community whose health problems this past winter that can be traced back to this incomplete combustion of corn and at least two other adults who have experienced more severe asthma problem than in the past, said Connell. Connell said while he was unable to prove that burning corn cobs was the cause of his wifes illness, it was the only thing that had changed within her environment. He stated hed been researching the topic, and that while some stoves were able to use corn kernels as fuel, but corn cobs werent usable. Along with his wifes asthma, Connell stated the burning of cobs created a wretched odor in Wadhams, similar to burnt popcorn. After extended discussion, the person burning corn cobs agreed to stop, but its raised the issue of outdoor wood furnaces for Connell. He stated the hamlet of Wadhams was laid out in such a manner that smoke remained in the community. It's hard to separate myself as an individual from myself as a town supervisor, but the question I have is if we should be looking at a moratorium on the outdoor furnaces, said Connell. Code enforcement officer George Hainer said that equipment and appliances must be labeled for intended use. People were only allowed to burn fuels which stoves are certified for. Sherman said he didnt have any problem with a law restricting wood furnaces being restricted to EPA certified units. The town board members agreed to investigate regulating the furnaces, looking at examples from communities like Essex, which previously passed a local law regulating their use. Sherman, Connell clash on cell tower regulation Sherman objected to a proposed local Law #2, a telecommunications law which would regulate where a cell tower could be sited in the community. Connell stated the cell tower recently installed by Verizon Wireless at the Westport Golf Course hadnt provided better coverage for local residents. he said he was really discourage by the situation, which likely improved coverage on the Vermont side of the lake while not benefiting Westport. I think we should go with the local law that keeps control with us. Do we want these things build in the community if they're not going to benefit the community? said Connell. Connell offered a local law from Plattsburgh as a template for a local law. The law would regulate where cell towers could be located. By having a local law, Connell believed it would create a smoother process for cell companies seeking to locate towers locally. Sherman said he felt the law was too restrictive and contradictory. He said the example law looked like the model provided by the Adirondack Council, a local conservationist group. To give you an idea how strict it is, it originated from the Adirondack Council, said Sherman. Does that mean it's no good? I think we should have a lot of control. We just placed one that doesn't appear to be benefitting the town of Westport, said Connell. Sherman said some of it didnt make sense, and found it contradictory. He pointed out that while service was desired for the hamlet, the last place towers would be allowed to be placed would be in the hamlet. Connell responded the town only had jurisdiction within the hamlet, and hoped to encourage businesses to site towers on town-owned structures, like the water tower. The board voted to go to public hearing on the local law, with Councilmen Ike Tyler and Ed Smith joined Connell is supporting the resolution. Sherman voted against the resolution, and Councilman Don MacIntyre was absent. Earlier in the evening, the board hosted a public hearing on revising its building codes, which no one attended. At the regular meeting, the board approved Local Law 1 of 2008, making the upgrades recommended by the planning board. Town brush dump reopens Town DPW director Jerry Sherman also took time to announce the town was reopening its brush dump on May 2. The towns permit has been made very restrictive by the Department of Environmental Conservation, and only three inch or less brush will be accepted. No leaves, grass or other yard waste will be allowed. The brush dump will only be open during transfer station hours, since loads have to be checked. For information, call the town hall at 962-4419. We're going to have to spend some discussing long term solutions - within a year, there will be no outside burning in New York, said Connell.

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