Straw vote defeats code changes in Jerusalem

John Christensen The Chronicle-Express

Rather than go through all the procedural requirements to bring proposed zoning changes for the Agricultural/Residential District to the floor as a local law, Jerusalem Town Attorney Phil Bailey suggested a non-binding straw vote be taken to gauge the potential outcome.

With opposition to the changes hinging on two points, an increase to a two-acre minimum lot size (from one acre) and a 10 percent total lot coverage restriction, the board was polled, voting unanimously against the changes.

Members cited public input and reaction since last month’s public hearing as their reason for opposing the changes.

Supervisor Pat Killen and Councilman Mike Steppe, who had led the original opposition to the changes recommended by the Ag/Res zoning committee, expressed their support for the rest of the committee’s changes to the codes, and asked them to amend their redraft for side setbacks and road frontage requirements to suit one acre lots and 20 percent lot coverage. The proposed code changes will then be brought back for a public hearing and a later vote to become local law.

Other business on the board’s Aug. 20 agenda included:

• Signs: Bluff Point Association President Tom Close asked for and was granted town support for two interpretive signs to be placed at the scenic overlook on Rte. 54A. The 3x5 foot signs will relate the history and geology of Keuka Lake, and will be placed so as not to obstruct the view.

The first of four custom “Welcome to Branchport” signs has arrived, but will have to wait to be installed until the highway department has more vital projects completed or a team of capable volunteers is organized.

• Floods and highways: The board approved spending $48,000 from the emergency fund for Simmons Recovery Consulting in a short-term contact. The firm will assist Jerusalem with applying for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief funds.

Highway Supervisor Rob Martin reported that more recent heavy rains have set repairs and roadwork back another 1.5 months. Oiling and stoning projects will now be put off until next year, as the oil will not have time to set before snow plows begin scraping the roads. State funds for these projects will rollover to next year.

Chad McMinn has been hired as a medium equipment operator.