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Regular Meeting – October 8, 2014

The regular meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Homer held on Wednesday, October 8. 2014, in the Senior Center of the Town Hall building was called to order by Supervisor Frederick J. Forbes at 7:30 p.m.

PRESENT

                Frederick J. Forbes, Supervisor

                Barry E. Warren, Councilman

                Dan A. Weddle, Councilman

                Kevin M. Williams, Councilman

                Brian D. Young, Councilman

                Patrick M. Snyder, Attorney for the Town

                Anita W. Jebbett, Town Clerk

OTHERS PRESENT

                Martin Sweeney, Town Historian

                David Quinlan

                Stephanie Spina

                Tyrone Heppard, reporter, Cortland Standard

                Donald Ferris, reporter, The Homer News

                Eric Mulvihill, reporter, WXHC

                John Phelps, Highway Superintendent (arriving at 9:00 p.m.)

                Approximately 30 citizens (see attached list)

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

MINUTES

                The minutes of the September 3rd public hearing and regular meeting were approved as presented, on motion by Councilman Williams, seconded by Councilman Weddle and carried unanimously.

MONTHLY REPORTS

                Presented for audit by the Board were:

  1. The Town Clerk’s report of all cash receipts & disbursements for September.
  2. The Code Enforcement Officer’s report of all building permits issued for September.
  3. The Dog Control Officer’s report of all activities for August & September.  Also presented were the Dog Control Officer Inspection Report and the Municipal Shelter Inspection Report all rated “satisfactory” by the Animal Health Inspector of the New York State Department of Ag & Markets.
  4. The Supervisor’s report of all receipts & disbursements for August & September.

BILLS TO BE PAID

                General bills were approved as audited on motion by Councilman Warren, seconded by Councilman Young and carried unanimously:  RESOLVED: that General Fund vouchers #206 through #229 totaling $20,736.71 be approved for payment.

                Highway bills were approved as audited on motion by Councilman Williams, seconded by Councilman Weddle and carried unanimously:  RESOLVED: that Highway Fund vouchers #142 through #154 totaling $143,630.35 be approved for payment.

TOWN HISTORIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE

                On motion by Supervisor Forbes, seconded by Councilman Weddle and carried unanimously: 

RESOLVED:           

                WHEREAS, the Homer Town Board has been presented with a proposal to recognize the contributions of 3 of its residents to Abraham Lincoln and the history of the United States, and     WHEREAS, those 3 native sons, Francis B. Carpenter, William O. Stoddard, and Eli DeVoe, are not properly recognized in this, their home town; and

                WHEREAS, the Town Board wishes to establish an advisory committee to assist in developing proposals and obtaining funding to recognize these 3 town residents,

                IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED:

  1. The Town Board hereby establishes a Town Historic Advisory Committee.
  • The Historic Advisory Committee shall assist and advise the Town Board as to how best to recognize the aforementioned persons, and how to go about obtaining funding toward that end. 
  • The Advisory Committee shall seek input from the residents of Homer and other informed sources.
  • The Advisory Committee shall have access to town facilities to conduct meetings, but its members shall serve in a purely voluntary capacity.
  • The Historic Advisory Committee shall consist of Martin Sweeney, David Quinlan, and Stephanie Spina, with Martin Sweeney serving as Chairman.
  • The Town Board may appoint additional members to the committee in the future, as it sees fit.
  • This resolution shall take effect immediately. 

PROPOSED MORATORIUM ON GAS DRILLING

                Supervisor Forbes explained that some minor revisions had been made to the proposed  local law establishing a moratorium on gas drilling by the Town Counsel since the public hearing and that all Town Board members had had adequate time to review the revised local law.

                On motion by Supervisor Forbes, seconded by Councilman Warren, and carried, Supervisor Forbes and Councilmen Warren and Williams voting in the affirmative, and Councilmen Weddle and

Young opposed: RESOLVED: that Local Law #2 of 2014, A Moratorium on Natural Gas or Petroleum Extraction and Exploration Activities, Underground Storage of Natural Gas, and Disposal of Natural Gas or Petroleum Extraction Related Wastes (copy attached), is hereby adopted for a period of six (6) months which will commence upon filing in the office of Secretary of State.

FOSTER-MOORE ROAD MANURE STORAGE PIT

                Frank DeAngles, resident of Foster-Moore Road, spoke on behalf of others in attendance from the Foster Road neighborhood in opposition to a 7 to 9 million gallon manure storage pit currently under construction by New Hope View dairy farm along Foster-Moore Road.  He said that although the dairy has said that they had planned this 2.5 acre pond for two years, residents of the area and Town of Homer officials were not aware of the project until a few days ago.  He stated that while he is not opposed to farming or farm practices he is opposed to the siting of the large storage pit directly across from his residence.  He voiced concerns about health and quality of life issues, and the potential for the devaluation of his property.  

Once notified of the project, Code Enforcement Officer John Daniels had made New Hope View aware of the Town’s 400-foot setback and they agreed to move the manure storage pit back to comply with the setback.  However, DeAngles and the other neighbors in attendance did not feel the setback is adequate, citing the 3280 feet required for a wind tower in the Town.  He asked for the Town’s help in stopping the project.

                Steven Triolo, also of Foster-Moore Road, questioned why the neighbors were never made aware of New Hope View’s plan to locate the manure storage pit there.  The farm itself is located on Route 11 near Little York.  He was concerned about the morality of that decision.

                Jim Potter, Foster-Moore Road resident, voiced his concerns about the safety of his well and the tearing up of the roadway by all the large trucks from the dairy.

                Robert & Debbie Lewis of Route 11, Town of Preble, reported on problems they have had with New Hope View Farm since it was first located on Route 11 and the farm’s apparent lack of concern for those who reside in the area.  They suggested that people need to be aware of what is going on in their town and get involved because eventually it could end up in their own backyard.

                Kurt Armstrong, Foster Road resident, said that he had counted 31 residences in the surrounding neighborhood who could be affected by the manure pit, stating that he feels it jeopardizes water quality, economic values, and the environment.

                Supervisor Forbes reported that he has spoken with Bill Head, owner of New Hope View Farm, who had explained the project to him.  Forbes stated that farming has changed tremendously over the past few years and that farmers themselves aren’t always happy with the changes.  He said that manure storage pits are designed, regulated and financed primarily by the federal government under NRCS to protect groundwater. He offered to facilitate a meeting between DeAngles and Bill Head.

                Attorney Snyder was asked about whether SEQRA (the State Environmental Quality Review Act) would apply.  He said that SEQRA would not apply unless a permit was required or some other involvement by the Town in approving the project, which did not appear to be the case here.  He did believe that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would be bound by a federal law similar to SEQRA called NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) which would require them to do an environmental review of the project.  Snyder said that it appeared that an aquifer permit is not required due to the project’s location and that New Hope View has not violated any zoning regulations in the Town.  He said that it would take an amendment to the Town’s zoning law to increase the setbacks for a manure storage pit.  If the Town Board decided to draft a local law establishing a moratorium on the construction of manure pits the process would take a minimum of three months before the law went into effect.   

                Supervisor Forbes re-stated his belief that nothing that New Hope View Farm has done violates the Town zoning law.  He said that he would set up a meeting with Bill Head and call Mr. DeAngles.

Supervisor Forbes announced at 8:50 p.m. that there would be a 10 minute recess to allow those who wished to leave to do so while the Town Board members moved upstairs to the board room to continue the meeting.  Councilman Williams left the meeting due to an emergency.

The regular meeting was reconvened at 9:00 p.m. in the Town Board room.

NEW BUSINESS

                Worker’s compensation – Supervisor Forbes said that he would be reviewing the possibility of making changes to the Town’s worker’s compensation plan and would be discussing the issue at a future meeting.

                Sales tax revenue – Forbes suggested that the Town continue to take all the sales tax revenue to apply to the Town’s budget as they have done the past several years.

 Dog Control contract – There was discussion about the best way to handle the Dog Control Officer’s request for fuel.  

                Postage meter refill – On motion by Councilman Weddle, seconded by Councilman Young and carried unanimously (Councilman Williams absent), the Town Clerk was authorized to add $600 to the Town’s postage meter.

                Tentative budget for 2015 – Supervisor Forbes presented the tentative budget for 2015 and asked if the board members would like to schedule a budget workshop.  Forbes said that a few of the larger items were less this coming year, such as worker’s compensation and New York State retirement.  He said that he had balanced the budget with the sales tax revenue.  Although he had included every department’s requests in the tentative budget, he did have some concerns about some of them.  Instead of a budget workshop, the Board agreed to have Supervisor Forbes email them his concerns and they would discuss them at the November meeting.

                On motion by Councilman Young, seconded by Councilman Warren and carried unanimously (Councilman Williams absent):  RESOLVED:  that the tentative budget as proposed is hereby  adopted as the preliminary budget for 2015, with a tax rate of $1.30 for Village residents and $1.72 for Town residents.  This would be a $.01 increase in the tax rate for 2014.

HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT

                Highway Superintendent John Phelps reported on his department’s activities over the past month.  These activities included mixing the sand and salt for winter use, repaving Hooker Ave and repairing a drain basin, chip-sealing, and repairing the bank of the road along Haights Gulf to prevent erosion.  He was also involved in the Post Flood Emergency Stream Intervention Training sponsored by the Cortland County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Water Shed Coalition in Haights Gulf. 

                There was discussion about the Town’s vehicles and equipment.  Phelps said that he may place an advertisement for the purchase of a used tractor.  Supervisor Forbes suggested that he ask Attorney Snyder to review the ad before placing it.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

                On motion by Supervisor Forbes, seconded by Councilman Young and carried unanimously (Councilman Williams absent), it was resolved to enter into an executive session at 9:35 p.m. for the purpose of discussing a personnel matter relating to a particular person.

                On motion by Supervisor Forbes, seconded by Councilman Young and carried unanimously, the executive session was adjourned and the regular meeting reconvened at 9:40 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

                                                                                                                                Anita W. Jebbett

                                                                                                                                Town Clerk