Friday, July 18, 2008


I attended the Duanesburg Planning Commission meeting last night, my particular interest being the first wind turbine project to be considered since their new ordinance was adopted. Of course, Rotterdam is in the process of adopting similar legislation so I thought it’d be educational for me.

Before I get to that, I’d like to make some observations about the Duanesburg Planning Commission dynamic. I was very impressed with their entire handling of the agenda, one which was chock full by the way. The meeting lasted 3 hours, with the wind turbine evaluation coming nearer the end and lasting 45 minutes in itself.

As most know, I’ve been a critic of our own Town of Rotterdam Planning Commission more often than not, and I didn’t expect Duanesburg to be much different. So I was pleasantly surprised to see open government in action. All the members seemed well-prepared on every project, asked thoughtful questions and offered useful suggestions to the applicants. It was clear to me that each member had some particular expertise and qualification to consider the various projects. They also made use of an overhead projector for attendees to be able to see plans which I appreciated. The most impressive aspect though was that all the discussion took place during the meeting – out in the open. In other words, there was no closed door executive session where things get decided in the dark. They also seemed to have an acute appreciation for SEQR and segmentation, which is usually a significant concern of mine as well.

The wind turbine application didn’t disappoint me either. To date, I’m still forming my opinion on the feasibility of wind power, but my immediate concern regarding wind turbines is that they are properly regulated. The applicant was a knowledgeable and informed applicant and the new ordinance seemed pretty well understood by the commission too. It got interesting when it was determined that the project would not satisfy the setback in some regards. It was a difference of some 15 feet or so and it looked like they may have encountered a stumbling block. Given the actual circumstances of the setback shortfall it seemed appropriate to grant a waiver but I could sense the reluctance to undermine the new ordinance right out of the gate. However, in this case, the turbine is being mounted on an already existing tower so the waiver was more than appropriate, I think. I’m sure everyone hoped they’d have a more straightforward project but I think the wrinkles of this case was actually a great first test…and the commission handled it superbly. I’m looking forward to what transpires at the public hearing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shell Game

I still have a few lingering questions related to the recently defeated sewer vote in Masullo Estates. Though sewers were soundly rejected by residents, my eyebrows went up when I noticed that an item on the Town Board agenda following the defeat concerned a resolution to approve the required sewer district extension for Helderberg Meadows. I found that odd since Masullo Estates was essentially voting on tying into that nonexistent sewer line. Shouldn’t that line have been established before our vote? Moot now, but procedurally it seems out of order, especially when the Town has gone to great lengths to continually assure us that our destinies were not dependent or intertwined.

I’m also perplexed regarding the swath of land that the Town claimed to have all locked up as far back as November 2007. They voted to spend an additional $40,500 to study this land (that they apparently still don’t own) for drainage relief. (Incidentally, that brings the total to $73,500 without a shovel in the ground.) No results of this study have been forthcoming and now the engineer says the Town has to consummate the sale before he can provide estimates. Excuse me, but what was the $40,500 for then? I suspect that the land deal has been lingering because it was contingent on the Town getting sewers approved. Why else would this sale be delayed for so long when the Town has said how vigorous their pursuit of drainage relief is?

Lately, the Town has begun to spin a new thread that incorporates our relief with the relief planned in other neighborhoods. That’s a little strange and the first we’ve heard that strategy since our effort was supposed to serve as the model for the other neighborhoods. Sounds like a recipe for more delay.

I’m no conspiracy nut, but I do remember being told that the consideration of sewers would in no way delay or impact the planned drainage and road repair. This October will mark 4 years of recent effort and unfulfilled promises. Oh yeah…drainage and road repair is now delayed until next year…again.


The consequences of waiting, or studying too much, or simply taking too long to act decisively are always certain and mostly undesirable and unexpected. The latest casualty to befall the Town of Rotterdam is the announcement that the bike path connection to Montgomery County won’t be completed anytime soon.

That’s unfortunate but not all that surprising given the state of financial affairs in the State of NY presently. I think we’d all agree that there are probably more pressing infrastructure needs that have to be addressed before the bike path. But it’s an illustration of the cost of delaying initiatives. Things change…and that’s not always a good thing.

The recent CDTC Study just completed for Exit 26 examined many bike path elements that ultimately could’ve been vital to other considerations in the area. That could have far-reaching adverse affects on these other plans. See how delay can quickly unravel the best laid plans?

The Town Board of Rotterdam needs to begin acting more swiftly. No one is saying they should be fool-hardy or less than diligent while performing due diligence on matters but too much study can leave everyone pondering what-might-have-been.