Torrey adopts local laws for development, exemptions

Loujane Johns

The Town of Torrey board took the final steps to enact Local Law 04-08 Creating a Procedure for Planned Unit Development  (PUD) in the Town of Torrey at the Dec. 9 monthly meeting.

The process leading to the adoption of the PUD Law has been long and controversial. 

When Maxim Development of Plainfield, N.J. first proposed a large development in 2005, Torrey was caught in a unique position in that the town laws did not cover a project of this magnitude.

Adding to the controversy, one of the owners of the property under consideration for development by Maxim is Steve Eskildsen, then Chairman of the Zoning Board. 

Although Eskildsen had removed himself from all town dealings with the development, he still ended up resigning his position due to accusations of conflict of interest.

Since the 2005 Maxim proposal, many heated meetings have been held in the Torrey Town Hall.  Sides were drawn with some residents fearing the affect the huge development would have on the area.  The other side, including the Eskildsen family, saw the development as an asset bringing people and money into the area.

The Torrey Town board placed a moratorium on PUDs to allow some time for a committee to put together a solid law that would give the town a clearer means to work with developers and be in keeping with the Torrey Comprehensive Plan.

The new comprehensive plan was adopted in August.  The document is not a law, but a long range plan for future growth, protection and development of the town.  The plan is used as a basis to make other laws such as the PUD Law and zoning laws.

Two public hearings were held for the PUD Law.  At the first, on Nov. 11, many concerns were voiced by audience members. 

A second public hearing on Dec.1 brought opponents closer to agreement. With just a few modifications the final document was approved on Dec. 9 without further changes. 

The Torrey Board voted to be named lead agency and approved a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) declaring no negative impact from the law itself.  The PUD Law will now be added to the town zoning laws.

In other business:

• EXEMPTIONS:  A public hearing was held on modifying veterans and senior citizens property tax exemptions.  There was no public comment. The board approved the changes in exemptions. Yates County, Penn Yan School District and other municipalities have already approved similar changes.  Adjustments had not been made for several years.

• HIGHWAY: Superintendent Glenn Mashewske reported that state CHIPS (Consolidated Highway Improvement Programs) money has been reduced by the state to the 2006 level of reimbursement. He said this is not really surprising and thinks more cuts will come.

• LIFEGUARDS:  Supervisor Pat Flynn was authorized to sign a memorandum of understanding with Yates County for 2009 lifeguard funding for $1,080.

• WATER: Flynn reported engineers from Clough Harbor are still reviewing whether a water district extension would be feasible for the town.

• CABLE: Responding to an audience inquiry, Flynn said he has not received any word yet about the Time Warner Cable service extension presented last month.

• ZONING: Linda Lefko asked about progress on work being done on the zoning laws by a committee working with Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council.  David Granzin replied that the work was going slowly.  He said a meeting is scheduled this week.

• COURT: Town Clerk Betty Daggett explained there will be a new method used for sending court fees to  the state. 

Amounts will be recorded monthly on a voucher and sent to the state, instead of quarterly. Previously, the amounts were sent to the state and the state sent back the town’s portion.  Daggett says this method will get the money to the town faster and there will be no cost to the town.

• DRUG TESTING: Last month Mashewske announced that Finger Lakes Health will no longer be administrating the random drug testing required by the DOT. 

He has found a service provided by F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua that will charge $89 quarterly and charge an annual fee of $150.  The testing will be done at the town facility. Board members agreed to Option #1 charges.