Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Burning at construction site worries Valatie


VALATIE–The Village Board discussed opening burning laws, as set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, at their meeting this week. The board reviewed the DEC laws for residential properties, but were more concerned with an open burn at a commercial site.

A resident had contacted the authorities about an open fire on Route 203. She came to the board meeting last month to ask about the open burn laws after she saw the fire again in front of one of the houses at the Valtucket development, which is currently under construction across the street from Little Falls.

Village Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons read the regulations on burning from the DEC website saying that residents can use barbeques and burn barrels on their property. They can also have campfires and burn brush but not leaves from May 15 to March 15. The DEC also prohibits burning treated wood.

Trustee Frank Bevens said that the Valtucket property is currently a commercial project. “They fall under commercial burn,” he said of the rules.

Trustee Angelo Nero, who’d also seen the fires at the site, said that workers there were burning construction materials and that no one was watching the fire.

“It’s less than six feet from that back wall,” he said of how close the fire was to one of the two buildings on the site.

Mr. Fitzsimmons said the board could look into in local law restricting burning but that it might take two to three months to draft a law and adopt it. For immediate concerns he said people should call the DEC’s tip line at 1 800-TIPP-DEC.

The board also discussed reviewing the senior housing laws in the village because of the Valtucket development and how close to each other the houses are. Developer Jason Nastke received approvals from the village Planning Board to build seven houses on less than one acre.

Mr. Fitzsimmons said that under normal village zoning laws a piece of land that size could have no more than two houses on it, but because Mr. Nastke applied under the senior housing laws he was granted the approval. The village could limit where senior housing can be built in the future.

“We don’t want that cluttered housing,” said Mayor Diane Argyle.

The board will form a committee to review the senior housing laws and the zones for it in the village.

Turning to another topic, the board discussed the Shop & Find publication and accompanying advertising materials being left in residents’ driveways. Mayor Argyle said she called Columbia-Greene Media, the company that produces that materials and distributes them, to ask that the materials not be distributed in the village and was told that residents would have to call individually to ask that delivery to be stopped at their homes.

Mr. Fitzsimmons said that the Town of Copake drafted a law to change the way the materials are distributed, making the company affix the papers to the residences instead of throwing them in the driveway. He said that there was case law protecting the company’s right to distribute the materials. “They do have a free speech argument,” he said.

The publisher of Shop & Find spoke with The Columbia Paper last year as Copake considered its law. He said residents wanted the materials in the publication and the company had a constitutional right to distribute the publication. Subsequent to passage of the law in Copake, Shop & Find has not been distributed in most parts of the town.

The mayor said that the number to call to ask for the company to stop delivery will be in the village’s next water bill and the village will post the information at the village office. “I think that’s the first step,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said, of dealing with the issue before making a local law.

The next Village Board meeting will be Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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