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Johnsburg board seeks clarity in smoldering fire protection case

Johnsburg Town Hall

Johnsburg Town Hall Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Tuesday via email, Vanselow clarified his position.

“I’ll put it this way,” Vanselow said. “Neither I, nor the county fire protection and code enforcement people, in researching New York State fire codes and laws, see any reference to an 8 percent grade issue that Mr. Hitchcock mentioned in an open meeting recently. The laws and codes seem to state that 12 percent is the grade, which is consistent with our regulations for subdivisions.”

Vanselow said he has not yet addressed the issue with the chief but he intends to.

“Since my conversations with county officials, I have not spoken to Chief Hitchcock,” Vanselow said. “But I will at some point in the future.”

Planning Board member Roger Smith suggested that engineer Easton contact Vanselow and the Town Board and tell them that in essence, the Ward Hill project has hit a roadblock because of the fire protection issue and ask them to intervene.

Easton said at this point in the process, he’s not inclined to do that because it could make matters worse, not better. This is an issue between the Town Board and one of its contracted fire companies, Easton said.

“My job is to design this project according to the town code,” Easton said. “And that’s what I’ve done.”

Likewise, the Planning Board seems to be taking the same position; that the issue is between the Town Board and the Bakers Mills Fire Company and it would prefer to not get in the middle of it.

Yet Tuesday, Vanselow said that perhaps the Planning Board could help clarify the matter.

“I stated to (Planning Board Chair) Dottie (Osterhout) that perhaps a definitive answer might be available from the Planning Board lawyer,” Vanselow said.

Until the fire protection issue is resolved, the Planning Board seems unlikely to offer preliminary approval of the project. At a workshop two weeks ago, the board and its engineer from Clough Harbour met with project engineer Easton and worked through many of the issues on a 20-plus item list of concerns itemized by the town’s engineer.

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