(Town of Lebanon, NY – March 2013) Lebanon town officials discussed a potential road use law proposal with Delta Engineering of Vernon that could involve a coalition of Madison and Chenango county towns anticipating high-impact road traffic projects in the future, heard a proposal by SOMAC for the town to consider a referendum on a town-wide ambulance district to replace the three existing ambulance contract areas, interviewed a prospective town justice candidate, set the date for a public forum for comments on a proposed road repair plan for 2013 and issued bids for washed road sand for 2013-14 at the March 11 monthly town board meeting at the town office in the hamlet.
Lebanon town board members heard an extensive presentation by Aaron Falkenmeyer and Chris Maby of Delta who reviewed costs associated with the program, road inspection and survey procedures, how to establish a baseline for road conditions to ensure prompt repairs by any high impact road project operator, and how the firm, which is providing this service to 45 towns and several counties in the upstate Central New York/Southern Tier region, would assist the town board and highway superintendent in documenting conditions of roads, necessary repairs and which types of businesses with high-impact activities would need permits and bonds.
Their program will not impact current local business operations in the township.
Falkenmeyer and Maby indicated that the normal cost of developing all phases of the program runs about $10,000 per municipality, but they are discounting the program to $7,900, which can be paid over several years, for municipal coalitions of at least three towns and potential for even lower costs per town if more towns participate.
Supervisor Jim Goldstein reported that Hamilton and Brookfield will participate in the program. He said he also invited Smyrna, Eaton and Georgetown officials to attend the presentation. Town attorney Steven Jones, who also represents Hamilton, Brookfield, Sherburne and Stockbridge, said he was recommending the program for towns he works for where high-impact activities are anticipated in the future.
Delta officials said these can include natural gas development and extraction activities, commercial windmill development, construction of housing subdivisions and other activities. Their program takes into account normal road activity by existing milk haulers, farmers, loggers and other local businesses, and did not anticipate any requirements for road use permits from these types of existing businesses.
Delta took questions from members of the Hamilton town board, Smyrna officials, Lebanon officials and Lebanon residents. Lebanon town board members will discuss entering into a contract with Delta and moving forward with a road use law at their April 8 monthly town board meeting.
Hamilton Mayor Margaret Miller presented on behalf of the Southern Madison County Ambulance Corps board about the organization’s transition from a volunteer to paid staff and its proposal to have town-wide referendums in Hamilton and Lebanon for ambulance coverage via district. Miller said the proposal involves having SOMAC cover the entire township instead of the current arrangement, which has volunteer corps in Georgetown and Eaton providing ambulance coverage to the parts of the township traditionally covered by the Georgetown and Eaton fire contract protection areas.
SOMAC provides ambulance coverage to the Hamilton and Earlville fire protection contract areas in the township, but Miller said that they were asking the town to consider permitting referendum to cover the entire township.
Goldstein said he suspected some local residents in the Georgetown and Eaton areas would not favor this proposal, due to concerns about response time. He said the town commissioned a committee years ago to study the current fire and ambulance contract areas and concluded that the current boundaries should remain. Town board members asked questions as to what the makeup of the SOMAC board would be under an ambulance district; Miller indicated that representation from each town board was being viewed as an expectation.
She also invited town officials to attend any of SOMAC’s current board meetings. Town officials said that they will consider the matter and take public comment at future board meetings on the proposal. Goldstein said the majority of town residents already reside in the SOMAC ambulance contract area including the greater Earlville and Randallsville areas.
Town officials also approved a resolution establishing the April 8 meeting as a time to take public comment on the 2013 proposed road repair plan, which includes the following local and state Consolidated Highway Improvement Program projects involving Bird Road, Lebanon Center Road and road patch, finish Soule Road, start Keefe and Carncross Roads.
In other town board action, Lebanon officials:
* Authorized bids for washed road sand for 2013-14 and will open bids at the April 8 meeting.
* Received an extension for the town AUD annual report with the Office of the State Comptroller.
* Discussed the results of the internal audit committee of the town supervisor, town clerk and codes enforcement officer. The town justice internal audit will have to await the final outcome of the former town justice audit being done by the OSC.
Goldstein reported to the town board that one of outgoing Justice Bartlett’s final checks bounced and that there are insufficient funds of more than $600 in the justice checking account to cover the fees owed the town from justice collections. Goldstein also said visiting Justice Hailston has been attempting to organize the office, check back records and dockets and already found several checks including a Madison County bail fund check that are months old lying around that were not deposited.
Town officials will await a final determination and course of action from the OSC when the audit is completed.
* Reviewed the status of the proposed Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement state Department of Environmental Conservation-proposed regulations to govern high-volume hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. Goldstein said that legislation favoring a moratorium on all HVHF activity cleared the Assembly and now goes to the state Senate.
He said Albany contacts indicate that there are enough votes in the Senate to bring the bill to the floor for a vote and pass it, and then it would be up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo whether he vetoes or signs the bill, which would establish a statewide moratorium until May 2015.
Goldstein said Cuomo has been giving mixed signals about whether he intends to permit some HVHF drilling in the Southern Tier region before or will wait to decide until after he receives the final health impact assessment studies from the group designated to complete this study.
* Heard from Gary Will, planning board chair and member of the Comprehensive Planning Committee, that the response to the survey sent out by the committee has been excellent; an estimated 35 percent have responded – nearly 300 residents, that final numbers could equal 40 percent of all surveys and that the committee, with assistance from Carol King, will provide a compilation of results of the survey to town board members and the community.
* Authorized purchase of a new computer for new Code Enforcement Officer Donald Forth, who cited significant problems with the existing CEO computer.
The Town Board will meet again Monday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Valley Community Center in Randallsville on River Road.
The Town Board is still looking for volunteers for its windmill ordinance update committee and still needs a town historian.
Submitted by Jim Goldstein, supervisor, town of Lebanon.