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Chatham joins towns acknowledging climate change challenges


CHATHAM – The Town Board approved a motion last week recognizing “that climate change is happening and that human activities are a key contributor to it.”

The motion, which the board adopted unanimously at its June 18 meeting, was brought to the board by the Citizens for Climate Change Lobby last month. A similar motion was approved by the Hillsdale and Ancram town boards.

Jan Storm, who attended both the May and June meetings to talk about the motion, said that Congressman Chris Gibson (R- 19th) was also working on a climate change motion for consideration by Congress.

The board resolution agrees to urge the county, state and federal government “to take prompt and effective measures to rapidly address climate change by promoting and encouraging a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and their associated infrastructure, improvement in efficiency of energy systems, and the development and installation of renewable energy systems.”

It also says the board “stands ready to work with any level of government to achieve these goals, that will in the process create safe, sustainable jobs and provide real, clean energy solutions for generations to come.”

At last week’s Chatham Town Board meeting the board also heard from Robyn Reynolds from the state’s Climate Smart Communities, who urged the board to adopt another motion to become part of her group’s program to help find funding for green projects.

Ms. Reynolds told board members that if they adopted her motion the town could “do as much or as little as you want” to move toward finding clean energy projects. Part of the motion talks about decreasing community energy use and increasing the use of renewable energy. The final part of the resolution asks for the town to “commit to an evolving process of climate action.”

Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said the board would put the Climate Smart Communities resolution on the agenda for next month.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board discussed not hiring a new comptroller and instead relying on an outside accounting firm. The last town comptroller, Deborah Cesternino, died in April and the board’s Citizens Finance Committee met to review how to move forward. Henry Swartz, a member of both the Town Board and the Finance Committee, said the town could save $30,000 by not hiring a new employee for the position. Town Attorney Tal Rappelyea he would look into whether or not the town would have to dissolve the position of comptroller before finding an accounting firm. “All of it is logistically plausible, it’s just doing it correctly,” he said
  • The board approved moving the zoning boundary on a piece of property in the RL1 to the RL2 district so a family could subdivide its property into a five-acre and a fifteen-acre plot for family members to build houses. The board passed the motion for the change after a public hearing with no negative comments. Mr. Rappleyea went over the short form state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQEA) review with the board. The change only affects one 20-acre plot already owned by the family
  • Mr. DeGroodt said that plans for temporary safety measures at the entrance to the one-lane Albany Turnpike Bridge off of Route 295 in East Chatham are at the state Department of Transportation (DOT) for review. Mr. Swartz said he’d heard about a minor traffic accident at the bridge recently and he wanted to reassure the residents that the board is working on the problem.

“We’ll try to speed DOT up,” Mr. DeGroodt said.

The next Town Board meeting is Thursday, July 16 at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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