Posted by: Dawn Powell | March 20, 2009

Town Board – you can watch this one on tv

Town Board – March 18, 2009

Robert Tendy had himself a four hour meeting Wednesday, and while his mood was much better than at last week’s work session, it was still foul.  He mocked Councilwoman Keresey for her disagreement on incentive zoning, and he yelled at me for asking questions about non-conforming lots, and the proposed laws, even though I had held my questions until public comment.

He is becoming angrier and angrier, and more and more uncaring about the public’s point of view.  Most people stay away, and I really can’t blame them.

There were eleven Town Attorney driven agenda items, things that Mr. Zutt has decided must be considered by the board.  There was resistance on some items, but almost none on others.  Mr. Zutt has stepped very far out of the role of Town, Planning, and Zoning Attorney.  I am quite uncomfortable with this situation.

The hot topic was road dedication.  The resolution was really brilliant.  It said that the town would not automatically accept dedication of roads, but that they could negotiate for them, thus leaving the door wide open for acceptance.  Of course, the town has always had the right to accept or not to accept roads, and the Planning Board cannot speak for them, nor can the developer. 

We have lots of private roads in Putnam Valley, and some of them are not all that old.  When a homeowners’ association is formed to handle maintenance of the development’s drainage district, it is an indication that the road was not intended for public dedication.  That is the circumstance at Timberline Court.  As much as I don’t care for the Town Board management of some of our special districts, I do think that drainage districts are a good idea.  I do not, however, think that a private road should be accepted because the developer represented that it would be, or because the homeowners do not want to pay for snow removal.  I understand the concept of paying for services for my community.  I am in a special district, and I pay for that district’s upkeep. I do think that homeowners’ associations are a much better representative body for the individual district than are the town board members.  They allow the members a much greater level of control.

Timberline Court has a homeowners’ association, and someone said it cost them $40,000 to plow the snow.  They would prefer that you and I pay that.  I think they should shop around, or maybe get a pick-up truck and put a plow on the front of it.  I am thinking of another road with relatively new houses on it.  I’m sure it doesn’t cost them that much.  One resident says she wants to be part of the community, and apparently that means we should pay for her road. 

There was also conversation about school buses, and it should be noted in all of this that the school buses do not necessarily go to every house, even on town roads.  That happens in Lake Peekskill all the time, and probably in other areas as well.  It should also be noted that those of us who reside in less than 1/3 of the houses that these residents own, and less than 1/3 of the property, and homes that are not new, do not pay proportionately less in taxes.  New, large houses may pay high taxes, but they are still largely subsidized by the rest of us.  The views expressed did not make me feel comfortable about the inclusion of the rest of us in their concerns.  They have their concern, and the impact on the rest of us doesn’t matter.  It really was about having their snow plowed.  A resident asked me why the Town Board is planning to accept this road, and I had no answer.  Votes in the next election, maybe?

On April Fool’s Day, there will be an informational meeting about the Jersey planners concept of Oregon Corners.  It’s an appropriate day.  I asked Mr. Tendy to consider holding a visioning meeting, so that the public would feel that their input was of value.  He said they already had a vision.  You and I need not bother.  He has decided what he wants to do, and nobody else matters.  A Master Plan for Oregon Corners would include everyone’s ideas.  This will not.  The purpose of the meeting will be to inform us and get us on board, not to listen to our concerns.  Mr. Tendy does not believe in that.  He was in on the county conversations, so it is of no importance that no one else was.

A resident said to me, thank goodness the monster wall is the only thing he’s done.

Mr. Tendy asked Eileen if he was allowed to second a motion. And twice Mr. Cinque asked for a second when there was a discussion.  

Mr. Tendy does not want to change the rules for the agenda.  After the last work session, three of the board members would like to publish the work session agenda on Friday, and add only urgent items at the meeting.  One point of agreement with Bob.  He is right.  They can vote no.

Mr. Cinque again stayed in the agriculture discussion.  I wish they would tell us what is going on there.

They are going to televise work sessions, if it is not too much work for our videographer.

They created a new senior clerk position for the assessor’s office.

They discussed incentive zoning, and now Gene is intrigued.  It was Mr. Zutt who was intrigued before.

Gene did see a problem with implementing this.  There is a problem with the Town Board assuming the powers of the Planning and Zoning Boards.  Mr. Zutt again told us that he is not promoting this.  He seems unaware that it has been discussed before by the Comprehensive Plan committee.  It has been rejected before, but that does not mean that the men won’t proceed with it anyway.


I was in Mr. Tendy’s group at the CP visioning meeting, and his views were not well received.  He was so insulting that I left and joined another group.  Now he feels that he gets to impose his opinion on everyone.  We did, at least, find out some of the incentive zoning that he and Mr. Zutt are considering.   They want to put a well on the Hauegsen property on Oscawana Lake Road and Cimarron.  The town, at its own expense, dug a well on that property, with no contractual agreement for its use.  This well is their proposed solution to the salt contaminated houses at Crofts Corners.  Mr Zutt mentioned 24 houses with salt contamination there, but it was corrected to 14.  I haven’t seen the numbers since I left town hall, and I have to say that before me, no one had actually looked at them.  The situation was improving, and if the county were to change its salting practices, that might help considerably.  Long ago, the county DOH had suggested distillation.  I thought it was a good idea.  It would not relieve the town of the DEC mandated obligation to test, but it would certainly help the residents.  If I were in that area, I would consider it.  The Hauesgen well is not a solution that I support, so I wouldn’t support incentive zoning to accomplish it.


The Ingersoll house was brought up.  We were supposedly getting gifts to support that project, and there are still people living there, so I wouldn’t change the zoning for that one either.  And I wouldn’t get involved in more of this unpaid tax morass.


The Fieldstone project was mentioned.  Mr. Tendy supported that, but no one else did.  That wouldn’t require any incentive zoning, so that’s out as a reason for this law.  He mentioned a few times, that we could use this law to mandate cluster zoning.  We can already do that!  He mentioned that we could get nature trails or open space, but we can already do that.  Both Mr. Zutt and Mr. Tendy came across as misinformed on this.  Mr. Tendy came across as surly.


White Rock Road was on the agenda.  This project has been ongoing for years and years.  When the current contractor defaulted on his bond, the town foreclosed, and then let him keep on building.  Now he wants part of the bond back, and his attorney, Mr. Steinmetz, was there to get it for him. 


Ag district.  I wish that everyone who thinks this is a wonderful, feelgood piece of legislation, would just stop telling us that we can’t let one bad experience dissuade us.  For Putnam Valley, It has been three bad experiences, and one of them has been a really bad experience.  There was an inclusion in the district that was purely political.  It is a bad idea, no matter how many ways we look at it.  Mr. Zutt is attempting to get a right to farm law on the books to conform to state law.  Sam D. and David Gordon tried that too.  The problem is that the town wants to be protective and a little restrictive.  I understand that and agree with it.  But NYS ag and markets will not allow us to be restrictive.  There are two solutions.  Get rid of the county ag district, or get our state legislators to change the law.  Promote farming, but do not damage the surrounding community.  Nothing that was proposed in this discussion will help us.


There was some discussion about non-conforming structures and uses.  I am still working on this one.  Mr. Zutt offered to help me, and I will take him up on it when I have done a little more homework.  Apparently, my lack of understanding of this is a great annoyance.  I was scolded by Mr. Yetter, and yelled at by Mr. Tendy.  I’m so glad that Mr. Tendy didn’t continue his teaching career.  I’d just prefer that he was defending criminals, instead of “serving” us.  I did notice that Mr. Tendy refuses questions when they are from Sam D.  And apparently, there are special rules of which I am unaware, for my public comment.  Questions were allowed by Kathleen, and by Mark Pawera, but it seems that they are not allowed by me.  I am used to separate rules for me from all of these board members.  The ethics law was changed just for me.  They should have just said, Dawn Powell cannot work for the town.  It would have been more honest. Apparently I am not allowed to ask questions at public comment, even if I sit through a four hour meeting to do so.


Mr. Tendy angrily shouted that the rules do not allow questions at work sessions.  What rules?  Where?

Alas, I am not allowed to ask those questions either.


And speaking of that, Mr. Tendy did find some people to interview for ad hoc, so he probably won’t have to let me do it.  It’s March 20 and the PB still doesn’t have an ad hoc.  I noticed that he broke into a very long agenda for the interviews after agenda item 8, while I was asked to wait until the end of the meeting for my January interview.  I think it was rude.


The meeting began and ended with Mr. Tendy’s self aggrandizement.  He was talking to the camera for his opening comments, so I didn’t figure that I was expected to listen.  He rattled off a list of all kinds of taxes.  I find this opposition to taxes a bit hypocritical from someone who has benefited from the structure for so very long, and has raised taxes year after year after year, while simultaneously managing to depress the general fund, and deplete highway maintenance.  On this evening’s agenda, there were tax consequences to at least four items, but those consequences were not even discussed.


At the end Bob felt the need to bring up the legal case that I brought.  It was dismissed because Judge O’Rourke believes that I don’t have standing to bring the case.  That’s the last time I’ll defend Judge O’Rourke when Bob tells residents that the Kaspar situation was his fault!   In Mr. Tendy’s gloating (he really is a poor winner – no sign of sportsmanship there), he still fails to recognize that he was defending a lawsuit, not looking out for the public’s interest.  He has a small group who he represents, and the rest of us need not bother.  I still believe that allowing minor revisions on approved, signed, and filed plats, while it might be a boon to developers, is bad for the town. 


There was a decision in the Kaspar litigation.  David Gordon had obtained a temporary injunction, and a decision was just rendered.  The North County News had an article about it.  I have not yet read the decision.  Mr. Kaspar was quoted as saying he’s done here.  Maybe he can sell the land to the Trust for Public Land if they are still interested, and maybe this time, Mr. Cinque wouldn’t work against the sale.


Bob praised himself for all his work on enforcement, but In Lake Peekskill, there are vehicles that shouldn’t be there, fueling of trucks, piles of salt (oh no those will be leaving since it’s spring), a dumpster on the roadway. …..   


The only LP topic was garbage cans.  Maybe he doesn’t want us to know that there’s a district meeting tomorrow.  Oops, the word is out.


In June, there will be tall ships as part of the the Hudson Quadricentennial Celebration.  That should be fun. 


And a day early, it is Spring.  That should be fun too.








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