TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
MONDAY, 12/9/2019 7:00 PM
ROBERT YATES, SUPERVISOR PRESENT
DICK SENA, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
DUNCAN MCNEILL, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
LOUISE ORTMAN, COUNCILWOMAN PRESENT
STEVE SENSKE, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
OTHERS PRESENT: Dave Stapleton, Attorney; Brad Lawson, Zoning CEO; Howard Peacock; Justice; Pierre Chagnon, Legislator; Mike & Carolyn Leach; Clayton & Helen Emick; Dan Strickland, Highway Superintendent; Robin Miller, Bookkeeper; Nancy Thomas, Town Clerk
- MINUTES: 11/12/2019
- MOTION # 138 OF 2019
- SENSKE MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE 11/12/19 TOWN BOARD MEETING AS PRESENTED BY THE TOWN CLERK. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- MOTION # 139 OF 2019
- MCNEILL MOTIONED TO ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE 11/12/19 PUBLIC HEARING ON LOCAL LAW #4-2019, AMENDING ZONING CODE SEC. 635 AIRCRAFT LANDING STRIP. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- NEW TOWN/COURT BUILDING UPDATE
Mr. Yates said half of the roof trusses have been completed and the ceiling will be an R30. He said the roof will be solid. He said they are hoping to have it dried in by mid-January 2020.
- PUBLIC COMMENT:
MIKE LEACH – TOWN ABANDONMENT OF DRAKE FOREST ROAD
Mr. Leach said they live on Eggleston Hill Rd. and had read in the P.J. about the abandonment of Drake Forest Road. He said they are interested in the procedure and status of that action and how it effects their property.
Mr. Stapleton gave background on the action (reference TB Minutes 10/15/19 and 11/12/19). He said no title search was performed on this, but ownership could not be determined through an investigation with abstract companies in Mayville and County Tax Map and a survey done by Mike Masters for Mr. Wheeler. He said his opinion is that the town has no interest in this road whatsoever. He showed Mr. Leach the documents that the town is providing to the DEC in order to help them in their action to maintain the road. He said we have no indication that the public (other than Mr. Wheeler) has ever used this road. He said the documents state that the town is abandoning 3,676’ (as measured by the TONH Highway Dept.) of the road from Warner Rd. to the snowplow turnaround.
Mr. Leach said he has road frontage almost down the bottom of the ravine and they also have a piece with rights of access into Drake and Warner.
Mr. Stapleton said the town’s position is that they have never had any interest in the road, and they have never spent any funds on its maintenance. He said whatever Mr. Leach’s title rights are, the abandonment by the town has no effect on them.
Mr. Yates said the town will not plow or maintain it.
Mr. Leach said he has lived there for over 40 years and it has been maintained (more or less) always, but not to the degree that the turnaround up to Eggleston Hill has. He said he drove the road for many years as a shortcut to Panama and it is only in the course of the last 3-5 years that it has seriously deteriorated.
Mr. Strickland said our actions will allow the DEC to more adequately work there and maintain that road. He said in the past the only maintenance the road received was by NYS.
There was further general discussion and it was made clear that the action by the town is final.
Mrs. Leach stated that in the process of questioning their property assessment, the Assessor had indicated that if they were to build a house on that road frontage the town would be obligated to plow it.
Mr. Stapleton said if they felt they were being taxed on that frontage in a way that is not truly accurate, they should have that conversation with the Assessor. He said if the owners of the property on that road wanted to prove title, it would be their responsibility. He said the statute for the towns action on this was not subject to any type of public hearing on this issue under the highway laws.
There was further general discussion and Mr. Strickland said the main issue is the DEC work necessary to handle the beaver problem in that area. Mr. Yates said that if the Leach’s had further questions, he would be available to speak to them.
- CORRESPONDENCE: The following correspondence has been received and is available for review:
- CLWMA – Alliance Membership dues $2,000
- Assessor – Transfers for October 2019
- Lewis & Lewis, Attorneys – Letter of Interest in Town Attorney Position
Mr. Yates said the only letter of interest we had received was from Lewis & Lewis, Attorney John LaMancuso on Friday afternoon. He said he has spoken to Burgett & Robbins and they have a young attorney, Kelly Johnson who he has reached out to but has not received a response from yet.
- Chautauqua County Landfill – Tipping fees for Municipal Solid Waste 2020 $29/ton (was $28.50)
- Jamestown BPU – North Harmony has no unpaid utility charges to report
- NYSLRS – 2020 Annual Invoice – Due 2/1/2020 $67,735 (prepayment by 12/15/19 $67,165 or $570 savings)
- Chautauqua Lake Partnership – Annual report to members/contributors
- NYS Comptroller – Report of no findings – Review of supporting documentation and calculation of North Harmony tax levy limit, as well as proposed tax levy for fiscal year ending 2020
- OLD BUSINESS:
- Jamestown BPU Water Service Agreement for review, Dave Stapleton?
Mr. Yates said the board had received a copy of the agreement for review a month ago and asked if they were ready to execute the agreement with the Jamestown BPU.
Mr. Stapleton brought to the board’s attention page 2. paragraph 3. which states: If, during the term of this agreement, the increase in consumption in North Harmony causes Jamestown, Lakewood and/or Busti pipelines to exceed their respective capacities, the Town shall be solely responsible for the cost of system improvements within those municipalities. Mr. Stapleton said the town needs to be sure if it is giving any kind of approval for any type of development, that the current capacity of the system would allow that to happen, otherwise the development could not be approved. He said he does not know what the current capacity is and whether Mike Saar has spoken to the town about those issues.
There was discussion of how this would affect the ongoing grant process to get water up to Chautauqua Institution.
Mr. Stapleton said he has not spoken to Mr. Saar about any of these issues because what we are concerned about at this time is Sunrise Cove and BOCES with the current system.
Mr. Lawson said nothing has been discussed as far as Grandview, but that does not mean it won’t be developed in the future.
Mr. Sena said he spoke to Dave Leathers about the concern of repair costs that exceed the $7,500 in the contract. He said Mr. Leathers assured him that the average repair is about $4.500-$5,000 on an average line freeze up and anything above $7,500 would be catastrophic. He also said this contract is the same one that every town has received. The BPU will not budge on this contract.
Mr. Stapleton said paragraph 3. forces you to understand the limitations of development and we don’t know what those limitations are.
Mr. Lawson said a large industry that uses a lot of water might present a different problem than a development.
Mr. Sena said he felt the question of BPU line capacity is a legitimate question that needs to be asked and answered prior to contract approval.
There was further general discussion and it was decided the board would table any action on the contract until the year end meeting and paragraph 3. is better clarified.
- 2020 Budget submitted to County
- Abandonment of Drake Forest Road
Discussed previously under Public Comment
- Tim Rice – Abandoned Roadway Purchase
Mr. Yates said in May 2010 Mr. Rice had approached the town about purchasing a portion of land (old Rt. 394) that was abandoned when it was re-routed for the bridge and overpass. He said at this time no one actually knows who the land belongs to, but previous Supervisor Carlson accepted $500 in partial payment for that transaction with the understanding that Mr. Rice’s attorney would do the work necessary to determine actual ownership. He said if the town did not own that land/road we would have to refund the $500 to Mr. Rice.
- Zoning Board of Appeals – Appointment to fill Dave Humphreys vacancy
Mrs. Thomas said the decision on the appointment would be by town board vote.
- MOTION # 140 OF 2019
- YATES MOTIONED TO AUTHORIZE THE TOWN CLERK TO PLACE A NOTICE IN THE POST JOURNAL INVITING LETTERS OF INTEREST IN THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS VACANCY (DAVE HUMPHREYS) TO BE RECEIVED BY 1/10/2020. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- NEW BUSINESS
- New Town Attorney Hire
Discussed previously under Correspondence Item 3.
- Take Mitchell Property off Tax Role (Suggestion by Clayton Emick) – 2020 it will be off School Tax
Role and 2021 it will be off Town/County roll
Mr. Yates thanked Mr. Emick for the suggestion.
- Beichner Waste – Transfer Station Contract for 2020-21
Mr. Yates said Beichner wishes to increase their cost for services from $3,500 to $3,800 (+ $300/mo.) if we extend their contract. He said Mr. Beichner indicated the reason for the increase is prevailing rate wage.
Mr. Sena asked how the $3,600/year increase will affect the 2020 budget. He asked Mrs. Miller if there is any surplus in that budget item to cover the increase.
Mrs. Miller said she could give him that figure tomorrow.
It was discussed that it could be bid out again.
Mr. Senske suggested that Beichner could be approached to discuss a solution before any action is taken. He said if we take it to bid, we have lost our leverage with Beichner.
- MOTION # 141 OF 2019
- SENSKE MOTIONED TO TABLE ACTION ON THE TRANSFER STATION CONTRACT DECISION FOR FURTHER NEGOTIATION AND DISCUSSION WITH BEICHNER. MRS. ORTMAN SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- Mowing Contract 2020
Mr. Yates said we have a 2-year contract with Mr. Stevens, and many are not satisfied with the quality of his work. He said at a minimum a conversation should be held and Mr. Stevens given the opportunity to discuss and address issues.
Mr. Stapleton said the contract indicates that unsatisfactory workmanship is cause for re-negotiating said contract and that might require some proof of same.
Mr. Yates said he would discuss the issue and let Mr. Stevens know what our expectation are prior to mowing season so that we are not in a difficult position if Mr. Stevens feels he cannot meet those expectations.
- Set Year End Town Board meeting date
- MOTION # 142 OF 2019
MRS. ORTMAN MOTIONED TO HOLD THE TOWN BOARD 2019 YEAR END BOARD MEETING ON FRIDAY, 12/20/2019 AT 12:00 PM. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
PIERRE CHAGNON, LEGISLATOR
Mr. Chagnon said the following occurred at the November 2019 Legislature meeting:
- We approved the reduction in the number of board members of the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District from 7 to 5. It’s sad that the administrative board of this sewer district that was established 44 years ago can no longer get enough community participation to convene a quorum of 4.
- We approved the agreements to provide court security detail to the Town of North Harmony and the Town of Ellery next year.
- We approved an amendment to the 2019 Capital Plan by adding a project to purchase a long pursued parcel of land in close proximity to the Chadwick Bay Industrial Park to expand the amount of industrial land available for businesses.
- We approved the distribution of mortgage taxes. Ellery will receive $70,804, a 3% decrease from the same period last year; North Harmony will receive $34,410, a 73% increase from the same period last year; and Bemus Point will receive $4,786, a 2% decrease from the same period last year. Overall the County distributed 32% more than the same period last year.
- We approved the rates to be set as the Chautauqua County equalization rates for the 2020 tax rolls, including Ellery at 90% and North Harmony at 93.75%.
- The Castelli Cheese Factory in Harmony in now closed. The parent company in Italy is being sold to a French company. The company received grants and incentives from Empire Development of $8,000,000. There is not enough security in the equipment to cover that amount.
KEVIN OKERLUND, ASSESSOR
Mr. Okerlund’s report indicated that all Senior exemption renewals and Ag renewals will be mailed out the first in January. Filing deadline is 3/1/2020. All deeds have been posted and appropriate reports have been sent to the State of NY. All files have been given to the County for January property taxes.
HOWARD PEACOCK, JUSTICE
COURT REPORT FOR MONTH OF NOVEMBER 2019
December 9, 2019 Board Meeting
$20,028.00 in fines, fees and surcharges was collected by the Court and given to the Town of North Harmony CFO for the court cases reported to the NYS Comptroller for November 2019. We opened 153 new cases and closed 143 cases.
Mr. Peacock said numbers are down and he has not received any word on the JCAP Grant to date.
JOHN STOW, DCO
Mr. Stow’s report indicated that we have received a Satisfactory designation from Ag and Markets on our shelter inspection since we signed the contract with Chautauqua County Humane Society.
DAN STRICKLAND, HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
Mr. Strickland said the Highway Department is waiting for winter to arrive.
BRAD LAWSON, ZONING C.E.O. (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mr. Lawson reviewed his report for those present.
There was discussion that moratoriums on wind farms, etc. are not valid because of the NYS laws regarding “shot clocks” on these types of actions.
Mr. Lawson asked the board where they are as far as the proposed Transient Rental Law provided to them by the Planning Board. He said this will become an issue as spring arrives since our current Zoning does not allow for rentals of this type.
Mrs. Ortman said she feels a public hearing on this law should be held off until the seasonal people return because they are the ones the law will affect. She said at the very least they should have plenty of notice.
Mr. Lawson and Mr. Senske said they are, but the law will give them the legal right to rent with some stipulations. He said those who rent out properties now are doing so illegally. He said there are many people who follow the rules and pay their bed tax to the county but there are some who do not, and this law would remediate that.
Mr. Yates said this is a decision to be made by the board and more time is needed for discussion.
Mr. Sena noted that at a previous Planning Board meeting, Mr. Warner pulled up on his phone literally hundreds of Air BNB adds for North Harmony homes.
There was discussion of possibly setting a date at the yearend meeting to hold a joint meeting on this in January or February.
NANCY THOMAS, TOWN CLERK (Copy of Report in Minute Book)
Mrs. Thomas said her office if getting ready for tax collection which will begin on 1/6/20 and end on 4/1/20. She said her office will be using the County Tax Program this year. She said the Governor signed legislation on 11/14/19, allowing adoptees for the first time to receive a copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18 years old. This will allow NYS adoptees unimpeded right to information about their birth and biological parents. The law will take effect on 1/15/2020. Mrs. Thomas said she feels this act shows no consideration at all for the birth parents and their privacy.
- MOTION # 143 OF 2019
- MCNEILL MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE TOWN CLERKS MONTHLY REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 2019 AS SUBMITTED. MR. SENA SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEIILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
ROBERT YATES, SUPERVISOR (Copy in Minute Book)
Mr. Yates reviewed his report for those present.
- MOTION # 144 OF 2019
- SENA MOTIONED TO ACCEPT THE SUPERVISORS MONTHLY REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 2019 AS SUBMITTED. MR. SENSKE SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEIILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- MOTION # 145 OF 2019
- MCNEILL MOTIONED TO APPROVE THE FOLLOWING VOUCHERS AS REVIEWED AND AUDITED EARLIER IN THE AMOUNT OF:
GENERAL FUND $13,673.12
HIGHWAY FUND $27,242.79
- SENSKE SECONDED. YES (5): SENA, MCNEIILL, ORTMAN, SENSKE, YATES. NO (0). THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
- MOTION # 146 OF 2019
ON A MOTION MAKE BY MR. SENA, SECONDED BY MR. SENSKE AND NONE BEING OPPOSED THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED AT 8:30 PM.