Boards get complaints about diesel business

Gwen Chamberlain

The Penn Yan Village and Planning Boards both say they aren’t able to keep a business located in the North Avenue Industrial Park from testing high performance diesel engines despite neighbor’s concerns about air pollution.

Nels Hansen, representing a group of neighbors as the developer who built Spruce Acres development off North Avenue, met with the planning board earlier this month to complain about the exhaust from the business owned by Ross Castner.

Castner’s shop, located in a building he owns in the industrial park, houses a specialized dynamometer where he tests diesel engines. But Hansen and the other neighbors say the noise and exhaust are creating unhealthy air quality.

Castner attended the Planning Board meeting and explained he’s offered to work with Hansen in the past to plant trees to act as a buffer between his business and Spruce Acres, but Hansen declined that offer. At that time, the building housed a machine shop. Castner received approval from the Planning Board last year to locate the engine testing business in the building.

The industrial use in the Powell Lane area dates back to the 1970s, when Pennsylvania House manufactured furniture in the building where Iron Age Shoes was previously located.

Planning Board Chairman Cliff Orr told Hansen the village planning board has no jurisdiction over air pollution at the earlier meeting.

At the village board meeting last week, Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. said he had discussed the issue with Orr. “It sounds like you are on the right track with the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation).”

“I think we all need to work together so you folks can live there and sit on your decks. But in the same sense, we can’t take a business that has the Planning Board’s approval and is operating — we can’t shut them down,” he added.

Hansen told Marchionda he doesn’t want to put anyone out of business, but he’s concerned there could be more frequent testing.

On the suggestion of Trustee Willie Allison, Marchionda agreed to send a letter to Castner about Hansen’s concerns.

Other agenda items at last week’s  meeting included:

• FOIL APPEAL: The village board agreed unanimously to deny a Freedom of Information Law appeal filed by Robert Hawley, who had requested copies of the village’s attorney bills for the lawsuit between Police Chief Gene Mitchell and the village. Hawley was given copies of the bills he requested, but the attorney had blocked out some of the information on the bills. Hawley was seeking disclosure of the information that had been blocked out.

AUDIT: The audit of the 2006-2007 village finances is complete. The audit was due last fall, but the auditing firm did not follow the time table.

Trustee Robert Church, chairman of the finance and administration committee said Village Clerk/Treasurer Shawna Wilber can answer any questions trustees might have. Hoban said he has several questions about the audit and would prefer to have the auditors present it to the board.

Church said in the past, the audit has been presented to the treasurer, finance committee chair, and at times, the mayor.

The audit of the 2007-2008 fiscal year is being completed by a different firm.

POLICE STUDY: By a three-to-two vote, the board voted down a motion by Trustee Robert Hoban to hire a consultant at a cost of $5,000 to complete an efficiency study of the village police department Hoban and Trustee Rich Stewart voted in favor of the move. Allison, Church and Trustee Nancy Taylor, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, voted against the motion. Taylor said she opposed a new study because she doesn’t believe a 1996 study is off base.

She said she has requested an update of that study from the State Department of Criminal Justice and she will be attending a meeting in September where she will get information about other study options. “If we can get a study done for free, that’s the route we should go,” she said.

GRANT: The village learned a Small Cities Block Grant application to help pay for improvements to the village water system was denied on a technicality.

COMPUTER SYSTEM: The board agreed to spend $97,786 for a new Programmable Logic Controller for the water treatment plant, subject to approval of the agreement by the village attorney.

• SEPTEMBER MEETING: The board agreed to reschedule the September regular meeting to Sept. 23.