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Plan update gets high marks, mostly, in G’town

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GERMANTOWN—About 20 people attended the Town Board’s public hearing on the draft Comprehensive Plan last Thursday, October 19. Of those, eight people spoke, and all present seemed to agree it was time to move forward with the updated plan.

Ellen Jouret-Epstein spoke first, noting that the “lack of people” at the hearing “must mean that people are happy with” the revised plan. She went on to single out three of the 10 priorities that are listed at the start of the plan: establish a Conservation Advisory Committee; create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan; and seek a municipal water source.

Further, she said, “I hope a Zoning Review Committee will be formed quickly, because I also think of enforcement. I think that current laws are not enforced. I don’t know what the solution is.”

Municipalities may revise their zoning and planning laws according to recommendations made in a comprehensive plan.

Speaking next, John Myers said he “went through the whole thing, and the main thing you see is water supply. Any kind of development must be kept to a minimum so we have enough water for drinking.”

He also asked that the board “do everything they can to save money—no frills like this rail-trail thing they want.” Mr. Myers said he had talked to people living near rail trails and heard about problems with “garbage, policing it, fences to keep kids off the railroad tracks. This needs careful looking into.”

He also had a “pet peeve,” he said, the frequent mention in the plan of grants. “It’s all our money, these grants,” he pointed out. “That puts a hurting onto us.

“Former generations in this town did a damned good job of putting the town together as it is,” Mr. Myers concluded. “The only thing we need to spend money on is the lake and taking care of ball fields for youth.”

When another audience member started to argue in favor of rail trails, Supervisor Joel Craig repeated what he had said at the start of the hearing, that this was a public hearing only on the Comprehensive Plan revision, not on other issues.

Tony Albino noted that “enforcement is critical. In most small towns, contention develops because people don’t respect the rules, which leads to more town drama. We need to be able to enforce the rules,” he said. “Judgments are handed down against property owners but there’s no resolution, and that makes for a disconnect.”

Planning Board Chairman Stephen Reynolds said that for him, “the highest priority would be a clear set of zoning laws. A number of things have come up that highlighted that our zoning and our Comprehensive Plan don’t match up,” he said, including, but not limited to, enforcement.

Two people supported Ms. Jouret-Epstein’s remarks.

Prior to the public hearing, with just a quorum (in the absence of Andrea Foley and Ron Moore II) the board had declared itself lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of the Comprehensive Plan update. The board then went orally through the short-form SEQR, finding that the new plan would create no significant negative impact.

Closing the public hearing after about 20 minutes, Mr. Craig said that he anticipated moving forward with the revised Comprehensive Plan “in short manner” and bringing it to the board at its next regular meeting, Tuesday, November 21.

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