Friday, December 23, 2005

Hurley Town Board Meeting-Dec. 19, 2005

Background: This was the last formal Hurley Town Board meeting of 2005. It was also the last meeting for Town Supervisor Gary Bellows and Town Board members Al Mayone and Phil Meagher, all of whom were not reelected in November. The remaining Board members, whose terms of office were not up for election this year, are John Gill, who with his family is selling the property to the developer and who has recused himself from any votes on it, and Barbara Zell, whose husband is Chair of the Hurley Zoning Board. The following items discussed at the meeting were related to the proposed Hidden Forest 652-house development: Al Mayone read a letter from members of the Planning Board, the lead agency for the development, in which all the members requested that Paul Hakim be reappointed for another seven-year term as Chair of the Planning Board. Mr. Hakim’s current term ends on February 28, 2006. Mr. Mayone then presented a resolution which he had drawn up, resolving that Mr. Hakim be reappointed until February 28, 2013. The resolution carried. Some audience members privately wondered, without questioning Mr. Hakim’s ability, if this was an appropriate action considering that Mr. Hakim’s term still had two months to run and that a new Town Board would be taking office on January 1 and that the Town Board still had not taken action on members of other committees whose terms had run out last September. Various representatives of the Hidden Forest development were present at the meeting. All the speaking was done by Henry R. Hocherman, Senior Partner of the White Plains law firm of Hocherman Tortorella & Wekstein, the lawyers for the development (Geraldine Tortorella, the usual lawyer, was apparently busy with something else). The matter at hand was the PRD (Planned Residential Development) application, or what is the maximum number of dwelling units that Hurley will permit to be built on the 411 acres in question. Mr. Hocherman specifically wanted to know what the Town Code means by “gross acres of residential use”. So far there are four different opinions: the Town Attorney’s, the Town Building Inspector’s, the Town Planner’s, and, of course, the developer's. All differ, some widely. There may soon be more because the Town Zoning Board feels it has the right to an advisory opinion and the Town Attorney agrees with this, but the developer and the Building Inspector do not. Mr. Hocherman wanted to know what is included in gross acreage and what is not. Does it include the recreational building and related areas? Roads? Wetlands, steep slopes and other unbuildable areas? The developer maintains that as of right the entire 411 acres should be included and they could therefore build 822 units if they chose. The area is currently zoned for one acre per dwelling, but if the builders put in central water and/or sewer systems, the zoning may drop to half acre. However, federal and State wetlands and other areas where they can’t build take up at least a third of the 411 acres and roads and recreational areas would take up quite a bit more, all of which added together under a strict interpretation would allow the developer to build no more than 250 houses instead of the currently planned 652, or threatened 822. Supervisor Bellows responded by saying that if he could get all the relevant people together they might be able to offer an opinion at the Town audit meeting. This would be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 29 at the Town Hall, a meeting which is just supposed to, as Supervisor Bellows said, “close down the Town financially” for the year. Bear in mind, though, that a new Town Supervisor and Town Board take office just two days later so how valid any opinion offered on December 29 is debatable.

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