TOWN OF WATERTOWN
February 11, 2021
Members Present: Joel R. Bartlett, Supervisor
David D. Prosser, Councilman
Timothy McAtee, Councilman
Joanne McClusky, Councilwoman
Members Absent: Paul V. Desormo, Councilman
Supervisor Bartlett opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a roll call of the members present at 7:00 pm. Attorney Russell was also present.
Due to COVID the meeting was set up for a zoom meeting for anyone who would like to watch or participate.
Supervisor Bartlett moved to adopt the minutes from the January 14, 2021 Regular Meeting, Councilman McAtee seconded.
Supervisor Bartlett opened the floor at 7:03 for the Public Hearing concerning Local Law #1-2021, a Local Law to amend and reinstate Chapter 107 of the Town Zoning Ordinance. Supervisor Bartlett entered the following written comments into the record:
• William Tremont, dated January16, 2021 (Attachment #1)
Bill Tremont, Old Rome State Road, addressed the Board. He inquired of the timeline concerning the Local Law. He expressed his concerns again against the solar panel project in the Old Rome State Road area.
David Walton, Old Rome Road, addressed the Board. Mr. Walton expressed his disapproval of the solar panel project. He asked about the 10% rule concerning farm land and what the definition of the 40% coverage is.
Supervisor Bartlett responded, the subject is still open at this point. More research needs to be completed before the Board moves forward with this Local Law update.
Darren Suarez, spoke on behalf of the Boralax Company. He attended the meeting to find out the concerns of the community. It is their hope to blend into the community as much as possible and adjust the project where they can to address these concerns. He offered to a take part in the discussion with the public and answer any questions that are raised. The landowners who are working with Boralax have invited them to build on their property, which is the reason they are in this area.
Jake Ladue, Mr. Robbins son in law spoke on behalf of the family. He reminded everyone of the employment and input to local businesses they have provided to the community. The farming industry has suffered great economic hardship in the past years. By diversifying and gaining income from other sources it allows them to maintain and grow in other areas that will stimulate the local economy. The Robbins family owns a large area where the proposed solar panels will be located.
Bill Tremont responded, he feels this is a zoning issue not a property rights issue. Zoning is set in place to protect the current residents in the area. He doesn’t feel landowners have the right to develop property if in the process it destroys or damages the property around it. He believes the zoning should take into consideration residents first, and then landowners followed by the developers. He disagrees with the notion the project is temporary. There are substations and roads being built that are going to be there for most of our lifetimes.
David Walton followed up with Mr. Tremont’s comments. He feels this project is not suitable for a Residential 1 area. People move to this area to have country solace for their home. He feels these projects are pushed by the politics and subsidies offered by our government. The residents in the area are the ultimate losers.
Scott Zehr speaking on behalf of Russell Greenwood, Massey Street Road. He informed the Board that all the land considered for this project in not prime farm land. Some of the properties have not been farmed for 25 plus years. He questioned the definition of agricultural operations and feels this is a way to restore unused land. These projects could include crops being grown in between panels or sheep grazing around the panels. He brought up the fact there are other solar projects in the town.
Supervisor Bartlett closed the public hearing at 7:23 pm concerning Local Law #1-2021. A Local Law to amend and reinstate Chapter 107 of the Town Zoning Ordinance.
Supervisor Bartlett stated that the Town Board will not take any action on the Local Law at tonight’s meeting. They are working to come up with a plan to balance fairness for residents and landowners involved in these types of projects. He will be meeting with members of the Town Board and Planning Board before adopting the update. He asked if the clerk would set up a meeting with Boralax to answer questions they have concerning the project. He questioned Mr. Ladue about the Tug Hill Land Conservation Grant the Robbins applied for with New York State. This would pay them to keep some of the property in question forever agricultural. Supervisor Bartlett acknowledged this project would forever change the character of the town.
Mr. Ladue informed that the contract with New York State has not been signed. He could not speak on whether or not it might be signed in the future.
The floor was opened for general comments;
Mr. Eberle, 15770 US Rte 11, inquired of extending public water to his area. He and others in this area have poor quality and quantity of water. He feels there would be a great opportunity for development if water was available. He hopes with interest rates at an all-time low maybe funds could be applied for to construct a water district. No one else wished to speak, the floor was closed.
Pat Scordo, GYMO approached to Board concerning the possibility of rekindling the Northeast Water District (Water District #7) started in 2006. This project would encompass the Hampton Garden, NYS Rte 126 and Slate Road area. He presented the board members with a map of the area and cost estimates for the proposed project. He reviewed the report. The cost of the project would need to be affordable and below a threshold or approval will be needed from the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Mr. Scordo suggested preforming an income survey of this area. This could open up funding and grants if the median income comes in lower than the overall town rating. Discussion took place and the consensus of the Board is to pursue the income study. Mr. Scordo will get a quote for the survey to Supervisor Bartlett.
Supervisor Bartlett accepted the Town Clerk.
WHEREAS, interviews have been conducted by the Justice Court personnel to fill a vacancy that exists in the Justice Court Typist position; and
WHEREAS, the typist position has been vacant with the termination of Derrick Lawton the former typist; and
WHEREAS, Darcia M. Graves, 17263 Comstock Road, Adams, NY 13605, has been recommended as an individual to fill said vacancy.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Darcia M. Graves is hereby appointed to fill the vacant typist position on a provisional basis prior to attaining permanent full-time status, effective Monday, March 1st, 2021 at the hourly rate of $15.90 per hour.
Supervisor Bartlett moved the foregoing resolution, seconded by Councilman McAtee.
WHEREAS, PIVOT Employee Assistance Service offers counseling and other services to town employees who are in need of counseling for personnel issues including referring employees to agencies to assist employees; and
WHEREAS, it is necessary to enter into a fee for service agreement between PIVOT and the Town of Watertown for the fiscal year 2021.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Supervisor is hereby authorized to execute said agreement (Attachment #2) on behalf of the Town of Watertown for the period covering the year 2021 at a cost of $400.00.
Supervisor Bartlett moved the foregoing resolution, seconded by Councilman Prosser.
WHEREAS, the Town of Watertown and the Town of Watertown Ambulance contract for providing ambulance service for town residents expired on December 31, 2020 and a new contract is needed for retaining this service for town residents; and
WHEREAS, funds were included in the 2021Fiscal Year Budget to enter into agreement with the Ambulance Co. for such purpose.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the contracts terms and conditions as outlined in said contract is agreed to and the Supervisor is hereby authorized to execute said agreement for the term commencing January 1, 2021 ending December 31, 2021.
Supervisor Bartlett moved the foregoing resolution, seconded by Councilman McAtee.
Supervisor Bartlett moved to pay the following abstracts as audited.
Utilities paid prior to the meeting
General Vouchers # 19 to 20 Total $ 3,954.34
Highway Vouchers # to Total $
Spec. Dist. Vchrs. # 13 to 13 Total $ 3,115.84
Vouchers approved for monthly meeting
General Vouchers # 21 to 40 Total $ 19,717.57
Highway Vouchers # 24 to 45 Total $ 17,020.71
Spec. Dist. Vchrs. # 14 to 20 Total $ 110,491.91
Councilmember Prosser seconded the motion.
The Town Board adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel issues at 7:55 pm.
The meeting was reconvened at 8:05 pm.
WHEREAS, a vacancy exists in the Town Justice Court with the resignation of Justice Eric Swartz, effective January 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm; and
WHEREAS, a number of individuals, both attorneys and non-attorneys have submitted letters of interest in being appointed to the position of Town of Watertown Justice; and
WHEREAS, the applicants must be electors or residents of the Town of Watertown; and
WHEREAS, in order to fill the vacancy, the Town Council must appoint an individual to fill the office of Town Justice until the next General Election in November 2021; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, after reviewing all applications and letters of interest. Steven Munson, residing at 19452 Woodside Drive, a town resident and practicing attorney is hereby appointed to the vacant position of Town of Watertown Justice for the remainder of this fiscal year with the term ending December 31, 2021. The established salary will be $980.98 Bi-weekly.
A motion to adopt the foregoing resolution was made by Supervisor Bartlett and second by Councilman McAtee, and upon a roll call vote of the Board was duly adopted as follows:
Supervisor: Joel Bartlett Yes
Councilman: Paul Desormo Absent
Councilman: David Prosser Yes
Councilman: Timothy McAtee Yes
Councilwoman: Joanne McClusky Yes
Supervisor Bartlett moved to approve funds not to exceed $5000.00, to perform an income survey in the area of proposed Water District #7, seconded by Councilman McAtee.
Supervisor Bartlett updated the Board on the status of sales tax revenue and town funds for 2021.
He brought up the possibility of doing a town wide revaluation of property assessments to change apportionment of sale taxes revenue.
Councilman Prosser moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:16 pm, seconded by Councilman McAtee.
Pamela D. Desormo, Town Clerk