TOWN OF ESOPUS TOWN BOARD MEETING

JULY 21, 2011

 

Prior to the Town Board Meeting a Public Hearing was held on Local Law No. 3.

 

PUBLIC HEARING ON LOCAL LAW NO. 3 TO ADOPT CHAPTER 96 TITLED LAW MAINTENANCE:

 

At 7:03 a Public Hearing was called to order by Supervisor John Coutant.  The following persons were

In attendance:

 

                                                                Supervisor John Coutant

                                                                Councilperson Gloria VanVliet

                                                                Councilperson Wayne Freer

                                Absent:                                Councilperson Donna McAuley

                                                                Councilperson Kyle Barnett

 

                                                                Recording Administrator:  Diane L. McCord, Town Clerk

 

Pledge to the Flag.

 

Supervisor Coutant read the following local law:

 

 

Lawn Maintenance Chapter 96

 

 

96-1     Excessive growth prohibited: The owner, operator, or person in control as the case may be, of any vacant, unoccupied, or abandoned building within the Town of Esopus shall comply with the following:

  1. A.    Lawns or other ground cover, including grass, weeds, or other rank, poisonous or noxious vegetation shall be kept trimmed to a height of no greater than ten inches. Hedges, bushes, and shrubs located within a front yard setback shall be maintained at a height no greater than 3 1/2 feet. Hedges, bushes, and shrubs, located within a side or rear yard setback shall be maintained at a height no greater than eight feet.
  2. B.    Duty of Owner or operator or person in control: On any residential, nonresidential or mixed-use premises, any owner, operator, or person in control of any premises which has been determined to be in violation of this chapter shall cure or remove such violation when ordered to do so by the Building Inspector or subordinate with code enforcement authority within five days of the service of written notice as provided in Subsection 96-2 below.

96-2     Notice of Violation: All written notices under this section shall be served by posting a copy of such violation notice upon the front portion of the property or upon the main structure and by mailing a copy of such notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner of the property as shown on the current assessment records of the Town.

96-3     Public Hearing: Upon the failure of an owner, operator or person in control with notice to correct a condition complained of the Town Board shall hold a public hearing.

  1. A.    The public hearing shall be held upon notice posted conspicuously on the affected property and forwarded to the last known address of the property owner, as it appears on the current assessment records of the Town, by certified mail, return receipt requested. Posting and service of such notice shall not be less than 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing.
  2. B.    The Town Board, after a public hearing as provided by Subsection 96-3, may cause the trimming of any lawns and the trimming and/or removal of any hedges, bushes, and shrubs from any premises within the Town of Esopus, upon the failure of such owner, operator, or person in control to comply with any requirements and/or conditions of the Town Board.  Said trimming and/or removal may be performed by the Town of Esopus or by its designee, or agent, including a private contractor. The Town Board shall ascertain the cost of the proceeding and the costs of removal, and assess such expense, plus a twenty five percent fee for administration and overhead, against the record owner of the property. Thereupon said charges shall become and be a lien upon the property on which the removal was performed and shall be added to and become and form a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such lot or land and
  1. C.   shall bear interest at the same rate as taxes and shall be collected and enforced by the same officer and in the same manner as taxes levied and assessed against such property.
  1. D.   The trimming of any lawns and the trimming and/or removal of any hedges, bushes, and shrubs by the Town shall not operate to excuse such owner, operator or person in control from properly maintaining the premises as required by this chapter, and such owner, operator or person in control shall, notwithstanding such action, be subject to any other penalties as provided for herein.

96-4     Penalties for Offense: A violation of this chapter or regulation is hereby declared to be an offense, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed 15 days, or both.

  1. A.    Each 24 hours during which a violation shall continue constitutes a separate and distinct violation within the meaning of this chapter. However, for the purpose of conferring jurisdiction upon courts and judicial officers generally, violations of this chapter or regulations shall be deemed violations and, for such purpose only, all provisions of law relating to violations shall apply to such offenses.

96-5     If any provision, paragraph, word, section or article of this chapter is invalidated by any court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining provisions, paragraphs, words, sections and articles shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect.

96-6     All other chapters, ordinances or local laws and any parts thereof which are inconsistent

 

or conflict with any part of this chapter are hereby repealed to the extent of any inconsistency or

 

conflict.

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS:

 

Steve Withall –Lily Lane:  I applaud the Town Board for doing something about this.  I have lived on Lily Lane for thirty five years.  It is a nice neighborhood and the houses are taken care of.  For thirty three years I have watched the house next to me deteriorate.  It has had a negative effect on my property.  There is an owner but the lawn has not been cut in several years.  The driveway and walkway cannot be detected.   The wood is rotted around the windows.  This house has been an embarrassment in my neighborhood and an embarrassment to me personally.  I am thankful the Town will be able to do something about it.

 

Bill Murphy – Lake View Terrace – I live across the street from a house which has been abandoned for three years.  I also applaud the Town Board for doing something about it.

 

Jackie Homer – Lake View Terrace – I live down the street and I have the same comments.  A ten inch lawn is still a little much.

 

Supervisor Coutant commented that both of these houses have been eyesores within this community. 

The questions was asked once the lawn is cut will the town keep maintaining it or will we have to call again?  The Supervisor replied that it will work with a complaint to the Building Inspector.  After we

do this once the owner will probably be upset about the costs.  Their taxes will increase.

 

Jack Dudek – Lake View Terrace:  What will happen if the house is in foreclosure?  If it is in foreclosure the bank will be notified.  There is no excuse for property in foreclosure.  We want to protect the value of your property. 

 

Councilperson Wayne Freer realized everyone here tonight is in favor of this local law.  There are other parts of the town where people will not be in favor.  Will we be in the business of cutting grass, how long will it take the town to recoup our money?  We must also have money set aside to do this.  It could be up to one year to get our money back.  There are other avenues.  Why are we not going through the court?  There are 35-40 houses in the same condition.  We will have to hire people or take people off of other jobs to do this.  How can we maintain this and keep it reasonable so we do not burden someone else?  Whenever we go through court it costs us a lot of money for lawyers, etc.  It is not as easy as it sounds.  This law only covers the vacant and abandoned houses, other  houses that are occupied will not be done.  After you cut the grass, the house may be even more of an eyesore.

 

Councilperson Kyle Barnett asked if there was any way to draft a perfect law and of course, this is not?  It is a situation where you have these houses that are unoccupied or abandoned for several years and it drags down the property value.  Why do the other property owners’  have to suffer?  We will not be able to maintain the entire town.  The law gives us the opportunity to take care of some of the problem areas.   Now we can do something about the problem with this law.  What we did is to look at a lot of laws throughout New York State.  We felt we would start with this law first and work with this and it gives us the opportunity to address the problem.

 

Councilperson Gloria VanVliet asked the Building Inspector if he had to send a “Certified Letter” and then we can go before the court?  A certified letter is not necessary.  Councilperson VanVliet had a concern with this procedure being done to the same property every two to three weeks.    Supervisor Coutant explained it has taken years to get these properties in the bad condition they are in.  The house just past the cemetery has been in poor condition for years.  We will not go out looking for these problems.  Personally the Supervisor has been watching the house on Lake View Terrace for three years.  There was an attempt by the neighbors to cut the lawn on Lake Shore Drive.  They were informed if this was done they would be trespassing.   An attempt to mow the lawn was done once by someone who said they were representing the bank, however, he never returned. 

 

Town Resident (unidentified) asked if the town had a listing of these abandoned and vacant properties?  No.

 

Councilperson Kyle Barnett said the purpose of the law is to grant the Town Board the authority to do this.  In some cases Building Inspector Tim Keefe will know where some of these problems are even if we do not have a complaint.

 

Councilperson Wayne Freer said this public hearing is held in order to process the law.  If individual cases come before the town, the Building Inspector Tim Keefe and the Town Board will review them.

This law does not address trees and we have a property owner that up and left and the trees are in poor condition.    We will not go and take down trees in the neighborhood.  There are already laws if your property is in danger.  The question was asked what if you do not know where the owner is?  The Building Inspector has a complaint form you can fill out and the listed owners.

 

A Motion to close the Public Hearing was made by Councilperson Wayne Freer and seconded by Supervisor John Coutant at 7:32 PM.  All Town Board Members present voted in favor.  Motion Carried.

 

 

 

At 7:35 PM Supervisor John Coutant called the regularly scheduled Town Board Meeting to order.

 

Pledge to the Flag

 

Public Comment:

 

Fred Zimmer – Minturn Street:  The volunteers who have worked on the Water Chestnut Harvester need to be complimented for the work they have done.  The Supervisor said the beach is in great shape and they have done an excellent job.

 

Little League Winners:  The Town of Esopus Girls ages 9-10 will travel to the Championship Games in Syracuse this weekend.  They have won the district title.  The Town of Esopus Girls ages 11-13 have also won the title in their division.

 

1.  Vote – Local Law No. 3 – Lawn Maintenance

 

RESOLUTION TO PASS LOCAL LAW NO. 3

LAWN MAINTENANCE

 

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, in the County of Ulster, State of New York, the following:

 

WHEREAS, Local Law no. 3 – Lawn Maintenance, has been introduced and a Public Hearing has been held,

 

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board of the town of Esopus approves Local Law No. 3 – Lawn Maintenance.

 

RESOLUTION OFFERED BY SUPERVISOR JOHN COUTANT

RESOLUTION SECONDED BY COUNCILPERSON KYLE BARNETT

 

                                                                SUPERVISOR JOHN COUTANT                    AYE

                                                                COUNCILPERSON GLORIA VANVLIET       AYE

                                                                COUNCILPERSON WAYNE FREER              AYE

                                ABSENT:               COUNCILPERSON DONNA MCAULEY     

                                                                COUNCILPERSON KYLE BARNETT              AYE

 

RESOLUTION DULY ADOPTED.

 

 

COMMENTS:

 

COUNCILPERSON WAYNE FREER:  “I feel it is necessary and it is a step in the right direction.  I feel it will be a problem but it is better than nothing but it needs more work.”

 

COUNCILPERSON GLORIA VANVLIET:  “When it comes to restrictions and more laws on private property I am against it, but I went and looked at the two properties in question.  It has probably affected the property values.  For that reason I am voting in favor.”

 

COUNCILPERSON KYLE BARNETT:  “Councilperson Barnett agrees with Councilperson VanVliet that we do not want to impose too many restrictions but it is a smart resolution if it protects our neighbors and the value of our property.  When your property value is affected by someone who does not live in this town, you want to have a government that can do something about it.”

 

SUPERVISOR JOHN COUTANT:  “I have been wrestling with this thing since I took office.  I am happy to finally have a law with some teeth in it.  Right now we need this thing and need to get some of the properties under control.”

 

2.  Fire Siren – Out of Service

 

The Port Ewen Fire District Fire Siren is out of commission and it is out for repairs.  A new fire siren would cost $15,000.  A repair of the siren is about $3,000. 

 

3.  Landfill – Brush Hogging

 

The Supervisor explained we have a problem at the Transfer Station from time to time.  The Transfer Station is covered with grass.  We have to maintain it.  We have a quote from Michael Litts to brush hog the Transfer Station for $1,000.  Last year we did not brush hog it. 

 

A Motion to brush hog the Transfer Station at a cost of $1,000 was made by Supervisor John Coutant and seconded by Councilperson Wayne Freer.  All Town Board Members present voted in favor.  Motion Carried.

 

4.  Request for Town Hall Community Center – NRA (Standard Fees – Approval)

 

The Town Clerk was asked to write a letter to Robert Schlichting in response to his request to use the Town Hall Community Center for NRA (National Rifle Association) Meetings on the second Wednesday of each month.  It is a pleasure to allow the use of the Town Hall for NRA functions, however, the normal charge would be administered.

 

5.  MVP UPDATE – 13.2 %INCREASE

 

The Town Health Insurance rates will go up 13.2% yet the State of New York has passed a 2% cap on property taxes.  As a result the Supervisor has written the following letter to MVP with copies to our representatives:

 

                Please be advised that I received your communication dated 7-12-11.  In short and to

                the point, it indicates that MVP is planning and advising me that our insurance coverage

                for our employees will be going up 13.2% in the proposed premiums for all of our

                covered employees.

 

                As you are aware, the State of New York has capped any and all municipal tax increases

                at 2% for 2012.  It is disheartening to me as a public official who wishes to comply to look

                at an increase that is 11.2% higher than what we are being asked by higher levels of

                government to adhere to.  Until vendors such as MVP take this cap on taxes seriously

                you are doing nothing more than adding to the problems that society and higher levels

                of government are facing.

 

                In short, we object vehemently to this degree of increase and ask you to please reconsider

                allowing this to happen.”

 

6.  Employment Agreement – tabled 

 

7.  Water Plant Completion

 

According to Water and Sewer Supt. Donald Kiernan the Water Treatment Plant is completed except for the paper work that must go to the City.  We have borrowed 1.5 million dollars to complete all the repairs and it looks good.    The Supervisor was pleased and thanks to all who did such a good job.

 

8.  Church of the Presentation of The Blessed Virgin Mary (encroachment on property)

 

The Town of Esopus is attempting to purchase the parking lot across from Ross Park.  The property has been surveyed but there is an encroachment.  We are moving forward.

 

9.  Transfer Station Update

 

We have placed bids for taking used computers and screens and are awaiting the outcome.  Work is being done at the Transfer Station in house to improve the facility.  At this point in time the work is 25 to 30 percent complete.

 

10.  Budget Adjustments

 

RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS

JULY 2011

 

Be it Resolved, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, County of Ulster as follows:

 

Whereas, the Town of Esopus has been presented with budget adjustments and the adjustments have been examined and approved by the Town Board,

 

Therefore, Be it Resolved, the following budget adjustments be approved for payment:

 

AO.0599.000 – Fund Balance       AO.1680.400       Control Data processing                                $  85.14

                “                              “              AO.5132.403       Highway Garage Contractual       $  70.00

 

Resolution offered by Councilperson Wayne Freer

Resolution seconded by Councilperson Gloria VanVliet

 

                                                                Supervisor John Coutant                              Aye

                                                                Councilperson Gloria VanVliet                  Aye

                                                                Councilperson Wayne Freer                       Aye

                                Absent:                                Councilperson Donna McAuley                

                                                                Councilperson Kyle Barnett                        Aye

 

Resolution duly adopted.

 

11.  Payment of Vouchers

 

 

PAYMENT OF VOUCHERS

JULY 21, 2011

 

Be it Resolved, by the Town Board of the Town of Esopus, County of Ulster as follows:

 

Whereas, the Town of Esopus has been presented with vouchers for payment and these vouchers have been examined and approved by the Town Board,

 

Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the following vouchers be approved for payment:

 

                                General Fund                    111331-111400                  $  39,911.56

 

                                Highway Fund                   112132-112161                  $  59,572.69

 

                                Capital Fund                      115019-115026                  $179,607.02

 

                                Street Lighting                  116007                                  $     5,528.69

 

                                Port Ewen Sewer             113093-113107                  $     5,676.11

 

                                Port Ewen Water             114155-114190                  $   32,586.36

 

                                TOTAL……………………………………………………………….$322,882.43

 

Resolution offered by Councilperson Kyle Barnett

Resolution seconded by Councilperson Wayne Freer

 

                                                                Supervisor John Coutant                              Aye

                                                                Councilperson Gloria VanVliet                  Aye

                                                                Councilperson Wayne Freer                       Aye

                                Absent:                                Councilperson Donna McAuley

                                                                Councilperson Kyle Barnett                        Aye

 

Resolution duly adopted.

 

 

12.  Approval of Minutes

 

A Motion to approve the previous months Minutes was made by Supervisor John Coutant and seconded by Councilperson Wayne Freer.  All Town Board Members present voted in favor.  Motion Carried.

 

13.  Communications and Reports of Officials and Boards

 

Communications for the month are on file in the Town Clerk’s Office as well as the following reports of officials and boards:

 

Supervisors’ Report for July

Town Clerks’ Report for June 2011

Assessor’s Report for July 2011

Waterfront Advisory Minutes dated May 25, 2011

Planning Board Minutes dated

Building Dept. June Report

Environmental Board Minutes June 15, 2011

 

A Motion to adjourn was made by Councilperson Gloria VanVliet at 8:00 PM, seconded by Councilperson Wayne Freer.  All Town Board Members present voted in favor.  Motion Carried.

 

                                                                                                Respectfully submitted, 

 

 

                                                                                                Diane L. McCord

                                                                                                Town Clerk, CMC, RMC