At the Benton Town Board meeting Feb. 14, the board heard from Ben Tomion, a resident of Fergusons Corners, and his proposal that the town bring public water to that neighborhood. Tomion describes the quality of well water in that area as “terrible.” He estimates there will be about 36 residences served by approximately 15,000 feet of mains.
Supervisor John Prendergast replied that the pocket of homes there may make it economically feasible. He also said Tomion’s plan would “close a loop” for three dead end mains from the Town of Seneca.
Building, Zoning, & Watershed Officer Jason Hoover explained that connecting those dead end mains improves circulation and water quality, and reduced the need for end flushing. There would be two new dead ends, Hoover observed, but more residents would be served.
Prendergast explained the next step in the process for Tomion, who needs to get at least 51 percent of the property owners with at least 51 percent of the the assessed value to agree to the plan before the town will engage the town engineer to make a feasibility study of the project costs.
One step further along in that process is a proposed water district along Earls Hills Road between Bellona and Seneca Lake. That feasibilty study has been done, and now the town will schedule an informational meeting to inform the residents of the costs. Those numbers may vary based on the amount of aid received from the state and the bond rate at the time construction begins. Resident Jim Colizzi will undertake the process of gathering the property owners’ signatures in hope of reaching those two 51 percent thresholds.
In other business:
Zoning changes - The Planning Board requests the zoning codes be updated to address commercial solar energy installations (solar farms), the placement of recreational vehicles, and hydrofracking for natural gas.
Cable franchise - Following a public hearing, the board voted in favor of a cable franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable, now known as Spectrum.
Seneca Watershed - Benton has been asked to join the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO), and engage in a pilot program to construct sediment retention ponds and tanks on streams entering the lake. Prendergast is opposed to the organization, calling it another layer of government trying to impose regulations on property owners. Highway Superintendent Jeff Mann is opposed to the project, calling the ponds “mosquito breeding grounds.” County Legislator Rick Willson urged the board to join the organization so that these concerns will be heard and Benton will have a voice in SWIO.
Tax revaluation - The town’s new Tax Collector/Assessor Pat Brede, formerly Director of Real Property Tax Service for the county, was authorized to begin the process for revaluation of property taxes.
Highway - Mann presented two options for the town to construct a salt storage shed to reduce loss and ground contamination. Both are metal frame, fabric covered buildings; one is 42x60 feet for $144,391, the other is 50x50 feet for $153,492.
Mann wants to replace his rusted truck with a 1-ton crew cab pickup, and equip it with a dump body and snowplow. This could then be used when one of the towns’ larger trucks breaks down, and will plow the smaller streets in Bellona. Mann will also explore state bid and local dealers for the best price vs. options.