Middletown finally adopts Comp Plan

By Pauline Liu
The final Middletown Town Board meeting of the year, held at town hall last Tuesday night, was one that attendees won’t soon forget. For one thing, the marathon meeting lasted four hours, something that town officials say is unheard of.

For another, it was Town Supervisor Len Utter’s last meeting, since he’ll be retiring at the end of the year. Utter felt the lengthy session was productive, especially since the board adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan.

The board decided to update the existing plan, which was developed in 1984. The town planning board was assigned the task of coming up with a new version. Their work on it began in the fall of 2008.

The Comprehensive Plan that was developed covers 109 pages. Its purpose is to provide the town with overall direction for its future and offer recommendations on how to reach its goals. Several weeks ago, members of the Delaware County Planning Department called the plan one of the best they’ve seen.

Seen as “roadmap”
Planner Nan Stolzenburg of Community Planning & Environmental Associates located in Berne served as consultant on the project. She has called it a “roadmap” for town officials. “It should be a document that they refer to frequently,” she said. 

“It will provide the basic guidance for the planning board to review and update the zoning to ensure that the goals and desires of the town are met.” The public also contributed to the project by offering suggestions through a resident survey and two planning workshops.

Among the plan’s stated goals is to “protect buildings and people from the harm of flood, fire, detrimental land use, and impairment of their natural resources.” The plan even addresses the subject of hydrofracking in the event that the state lifts its ban on natural gas drilling in the watershed. “The planning board did not make a strong stand in addressing it,” said Stolzenburg. After the town board approved the plan, board member Brian Sweeney commented. “I wish it (the plan) was stronger in some areas, but a lot of work has been done and I’m glad it passed unanimously,” he said.

In other news, the town board has accepted a six-month interest free loan of $1 million from Dry Brook resident Kingdon Gould. Most of the money is being used for flood cleanup and repairs. A portion will be spent on the new Arkville water system. The board agreed to amend the 2011 town budget to reflect that the money is being borrow and is being allocated to various projects.

As for the Arkville water project, the town board approved two bids. The town awarded the contract for the arsenic removal treatment system to Atlanta, GA based Adedge Technologies Inc. for the price of $187,700. The contract for the HVAC (Geothermal) system to heat the pump house was awarded to Avolio, LLC of Norwich for $61,350. The state Department of Health is requiring that an arsenic removal system be installed after it found unacceptable levels of arsenic in samples taken from Arkville’s new test well earlier this year. Arkville Water Superintendent Terry Johnson, who was present at the meeting, said the system would be delivered in April. The town board agreed it was important to lock in construction prices, since they are only likely into increase.

The town board also agreed to table whether to renew a sewer-use law with New York City, but not before there was some heated discussion about the city’s failure to hold up its agreement to install sewer extensions for Academy Street, Bull Run, and Glenn Acres. Town Attorney Carey Wagner explained that the law is scheduled to sunset by January 30, 2012. “They want us to renew the sewer use law for five years,” explained Wagner. Margaretville Mayor Bill Stanton angrily discussed the city’s failure to build a sewer extension for South Side Road. “Don’t give them an inch, hell no,” said Mayor Stanton. The board agreed to consult county attorney Kevin Young for more options.
With the new year, Marge Miller will take over as the town supervisor. An organizational meeting at town hall is set for Tuesday, January 3 at 7 p.m.

As the meeting wound down, the board members thanked Utter for his 12 years of service as supervisor. “It’s been a trip,” responded Supervisor Utter with a smile, “Even though we didn’t always agree, it was an honor to work with all of you.”