A proposed local law to rezone three parcels in the town of Montgomery drew criticism during a public hearing on Thursday.
“You’re flying in the face of the Planning Board,” said Susan Cockburn.
The properties at issue are located along Route 416, across from Storm King Contracting on Neelytown Road and extending to the town line with Hamptonburgh. The law would change the zoning for the parcels from residential (RA.5) to industrial (ID).
The town’s Planning Board noted at their recent meeting that the properties were located in a flood plain and possible flood way, in addition to being located in an area along the Wallkill River that the town’s comprehensive plan advised against development.
“I don’t understand how this has come up,” said town resident Cathy Pitts, after calling attention to the planning board’s concerns.
Pitts, of Windfall Farms, located on Neelytown Road, said the area floods regularly and there is no room for retention basins. With an industrial development, she said the property would have a great deal more impervious surface and nowhere for the stormwater runoff to go.
Hayes explained that the property owners would still have to go through the regular Planning Board process for any future project, but Pitts objected, saying the town board should address the issues “at this point, rather than kick it down the line to someone else.”
“If you don’t change the zoning, it’s less likely to happen,” said Pitts.
Pitts also asked the supervisor if the local law was due to someone asking him for a favor.
Hayes replied that the owner of the property across from Neelytown Road had inquired. After the town board looked it over, they decided that it made more sense to rezone the three parcels up to the town line rather than just the initial property.
Susan Cockburn, who previously served as town supervisor and is currently seeking election to the town board, reminded the board members that an extensive study of the area was done by local planner Alan Sorenson several years ago, including aerial photos and mapping of the flooding. She asked whether the board had consulted the document or done any research prior to putting forward the local law.
The board admitted they had not looked at the study.
Cockburn criticized the board’s failure to research before attempting such “radical rezoning” along the Wallkill River.
“It’s wrong what you’ve done,” said Cockburn. “[Sorenson] knows what he’s doing. I don’t think you do.”
The property owner defended the proposed local law, explaining that he had hired an expert who told him that his property could be filled and used for commercial, but that it didn’t make sense to build a residence there as no one would want to live there among the commercial and industrial properties of the town. He also pointed out that he would be providing the town with a new ratable and thus it would be a benefit to the entire town.
The public hearing was continued to the board’s next meeting on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.
The public hearing for the proposed solar law was adjourned to the same evening, as the town has not yet received comments from the Orange County Planning Department.
In other business, a representative from Frontier approached the board about offering cable service advising that they are set to roll out services soon to seven municipalities in Orange County. A public hearing for the proposal was set for Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.
The board also approved a new snow and ice removal agreement with Orange County at the same rate as last year (3.64 miles at $4,750 per mile) and set a bid opening date of Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. for the town’s tree trimming.
Following an executive session, the board hired Andres Arestin as a part-time police dispatcher, with a start date of Sept. 18 and a six month probation period.
By RACHEL COLEMAN