Branchport Library will raze eyesore; build playground

John Christensen

The Jerusalem Town Board’s public hearing to begin the process of condemning and demolishing a long-neglected building in Branchport was shortened by some happy news. The property in question has been purchased by Branchport’s Modeste Bedient Library. The news was confirmed by Vincent Bedient and the County Clerk’s office. Bedient explained the plan is to meet with demolition contractors this week to pull the building down to make space for a children’s playground, something the hamlet has needed since the closure of the Branchport Elementary school some yearS ago. The location directly adjacent to the library is considered an ideal location for such a use. Bedient says the property was purchased by a combination of capital funds and private donations.

Another public hearing for a local law amending the water and sewer rent regulations for high volume users was also held, and passed with no comment.

The much-publicized effort by the committee to amend the town zoning laws to ensure that Jerusalem will be able to fully regulate and/or forbid hydraulic fracturing in the town has hit a snag. Some of the town planning board, including chair Bob Evans, feel they were not sufficiently consulted by the committee or the environmental lawyers who drafted the law. Some members of the public expressed a fear that by rushing this law to have it in place before the state begins handing out fracking permits, perhaps very early in the new year, there may be unforeseen consequences for small businesses. Section 2.6, regarding extra steps for obtaining special use permits, was of particular concern.

Attorney Helen Slotje explained that this was intended to give the town more authority in granting or forbidding specific uses, and essentially restates state law.

Supervisor Daryl Jones suggested sending the new law to the Association of towns for their legal review and immediate response, which is free for the member towns. Board members Neil Simmons and Michael Folts favored sending it to a land use attorney. Jones countered by asking, “How many attorneys do we need? Seven have reviewed it and said it was good. Where do we stop? These guys charge $200 an hour.”

Town attorney Phil Bailey said that it wasn’t so much a legal question, and would be better directed to a professional planner. In the end, with the agreement of members-elect Pat Killen and Michael Steppe, it was decided to send the law to the Assoc. of Towns along with any concerns by planning board members that are received by the clerk before Dec. 21, and the Planning Board will meet on the matter before the next Town Board meeting Jan. 18.  

In other business:

• HIGHWAY: Superintendent Robert Payne reported the town is in good shape and prepared for the winter with the new truck ready to go. The department was thanked by Bob Evans for repainting the historical markers in the town,

• E-MAIL CONFIDENTIALITY: in answering a question on the matter, Bailey said by state law, all town business is discoverable and subject to FOIL, no matter whose e-mail account or computer it may be on. The town has no law regarding confidentiality of communication, but Bailey thinks it would be a good idea. Resident Scott Demmin, a software designer and web application consultant, recommended the members consider all e-mails public information and that all confidential communication take place in person or via telephone.

• RESOLUTIONS PASSED:    

-2011 Highway budget amendment.            

-2011 Budget modification.

-EDU schedule.

-Keuka Park water & sewer rates.

-Fee schedule.

-Authorize Jones to sign contract for sewage grinder pump repair.

-Authorize mapping of Keuka Park water & sewer district.

-Approve payment of Meredyth McMichael as deputy clerk for record management.

-Accept resignation of Steppe from Zoning Board of Appeals to join Town Board. Jim Bird will rejoin ZBA full time.

-Endorse Board of Elections request to consolidate New York primary dates.

• THANKS: Max Parson, Michael Folts, and Daryl Jones expressed thanks to departing board members Neil Simmons and Ray Stewart for their dedicated service