& Environmental Committee
Committee Present: Danny Ross, Chairman, Merwin Armstrong, Vice Chairman, Kay Breed
John Steger, John Troy, Carol Tytler. Absent: Tom Hartnett
Others Present: Marilyn Brown, Richard VanDonsel, Susan Morgan, Amanda Barber, Chris Hauser, Syd McEvoy, Dan Dineen, Dennis Whitt, Mike McKee, Sandy Price, Bob Orrange, Janice Degni, and Corey Preston-Media
Danny Ross, Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:30 AM.
The minutes of May 10, 2007 meeting were unanimously approved.
Suggested Legislative Review
On motion of Mr. Troy, second by Mr. Steger Agenda No. 1: Rescind Resolutions 266-05 (Adopt the Cortland County Purchase of Development Rights Review Criteria) and 267-06 (Amend Resolution 266-05, Adopt the Cortland County Purchase of Developments Rights Review Criteria) and Adopt the Cortland County Farmland Protection Program Ranking Criteria: Score Sheet was unanimously approved.
Dan Dineen explained that the Ag & Farm Protection Board looked at our
ranking criteria and want to bring it closer to the state’s, as the County
has been unsuccessful in the past few years in getting grants. The revision is
proposed in hopes of becoming more successful. They did not put in a minimum
threshold. Mr. Schrader asked if the state has minimum scoring. Mr. Dineen
answered no. Chairman Brown asked why are we having problems getting grants.
Mr. Dineen said that it is a very competitive process and our applications
scored just below the cut –off for those that were funded.
Mr. Dineen said our criteria in the past had more weight on soils where
the state looks at development pressure so we have tried to equalize those
percentages. Mr. Armstrong added that more counties are getting involved and
making it more competitive also. Ms. Tytler said she prefers we have a plan in
place. Mr. Dineen said that is addressed with the next item on the agenda.
On motion of Mr. Steger, second by Mr. Troy
Agenda No. 2: Authorize Grant Application Revision of County Agriculture and
Farmland Protection Plan was unanimously approved.
Mr. Dineen said that the County received funding back in 1997 to prepare an Ag
Protection Plan and received a grant for $50,000. We have used $22,500. There
is $27,500 available from the State to revise that plan and this is the
application. The current plan speaks a little about conservation easement but
does not establish the goals and areas we want to protect. Ms. Tytler said she
was concerned that it did not say that.
On motion of Mr. Armstrong, second by Mr. Troy Agenda No. 3:
Memorandum of Understanding Air Energy TCI, Inc. and Cortland County was
DISCUSSION: Chairman Brown raised her concern that there is no timeframe or specified cost to the County stated. Mr. Dineen said there is no cost to the County. Mr. Ross asked that the timeframe and the statement of no cost be added to the Understanding. Mr. Dineen explained that he and Mr. Ross have been in discussion with Air Energy/TCT of Canada concerning the development of a wind farm on the County landfill and surrounding properties. We provide wind data, property and elevations needed to determine the feasibility and want a memo of understanding to see if the Legislature is interested in doing this. Mr. Armstrong asked if this was the only location being looked at. Mr. Dineen said they would be putting a meteorological tower in that area to provide the data. It will not necessarily have to be located there. Mr. Ross spoke of the two sites in Madison County. Mr. VanDonsel pointed out that the memo of understanding is different than the standard agreement as where disputes will be handled in Manhattan Supreme Court rather that Cortland. Ms. Tytler inquired about the zoning by-laws process to develop. Mr. Dineen said that in NYS zoning is done on the municipal level so we would help develop zoning requirements for a wind farm. Mr. Ross added that Southern Tier East has received a grant to help municipalities develop criteria. Mr. VanDonsel said that Herkimer is having problems with SEQR review process due to their requirements for visual impact.
Syd McEvoy reported that Dairy Month was kicked off with the Dairy Breakfast, Parade and the McMahon Dairy Farm extravaganza tour. He introduced Janice Degni, the Dairy Team Leader for four counties in dairy and field craft assistance. She gave a broad overview of their work as a regional team that focus on technical and management issues related to dairy production. There are three specialists who work with farmers to improve their profitability. Mr. Steger spoke of his role in helping two farms in his area. Ms. Barber explained how her agency interacts and depends on their expertise and what a great job they do. Ms. Tytler asked Ms. Degni how the bio-diesel project has impacted county farmers. She answered that there are not a lot of soybean producers but there is more interest. The farmer has limits: need to produce feed for their farm and the soil for soybean is not as flexible as corn. The biggest benefit to Cortland County will be the soybean by- product. Syd McEvoy invited everyone to the 54th Cortland County Junior Fair on July 10-14 and observe all the infrastructure improvements that have been made.
Amanda Barber distributed her Soil & Water Activity Report to the committee. She added they are still looking at the funding of the water chestnut problem and working at updating their management plan. Mr. Ross asked what is the status of the Graze project. She said it isn’t dead as Congressman Walsh did apply for the ag appropriation funds, however we have not heard where it is at.
Carol Tytler recalled the Legislative approval back in March of SEMA flood mitigation plan and had asked Brenda DeRusso to apply for funding for engineering study for Otter Creek project. The answer was no. She said that she is on the Common Council agenda for Tuesday, June 19th at 7 PM to appeal for their authorization of $10,000 for the engineering study for the retention pond on 281. It is hoped to incorporate the Mayor’s study for impact with that. She stated that she has met with Don Cook from Gutchess Lumber. They have concerns with the flooding impact and want to be involved with alternative retention pond. They have drilled Stupke Pond and found a ten-foot layer of silt. They experienced $30,000 loss in the last flood. Mr. Ross said that Cortlandville has been working on this also. Ms. Tytler spoke of the retention pond on Fairview that seems to be working and had no engineer assistance. Ms. Price spoke of the damage done to ARC homes she recently visited.
Chairman, Danny Ross said he was approached with the need to replace a board member at the CNY Regional Market. He said he has talked to Chairman Brown and Merwin Armstrong has recommended Darrell Reakes from Truxton, NY who uses the market daily. Meetings are held once a month for about 2 hours and there is annual training for new board members. A two-year term appointment was discussed as well as a method of reporting to this Committee on the CNY Regional Market meetings and activities. Mr. Ross referred this to Chairman Brown for appointment.
Ms. Price asked that the Bus Shelter be considered for discussion. Mr. Schrader said that the leaseholder of the Bus Station does not want to accept liability so he approached Mr. Compagni who also does not want the responsibility. He said he is looking for direction from the legislature to look at the list provided by First Transit to find another place to put the shelter. Ms. Price suggested it be placed across the road on the Horizon House site. Mr. Schrader said that First Transit does not want it there as it is on the wrong side of the road and the proximity to the dumpsters. Mr. Orrange, representative of the Social Justice Cluster, said he spoke to Mr. Compagni in August of 2005 and he said they were willing to participate if they had a written agreement with the City regarding liability, snow removal and trash pick up. He asked what happened to change his mind. He said that 300-400 people use the buses and what is a little problem to some is a big problem to others that occurs nights and weekend when passengers are left off in a dark and dank area. Mr. VanDonsel said that the problem is that we are dealing with a private enterprise who does not want to accept the liability. Mr. Orrange asked if there are any State Department Transportation Regulations. Mr. VanDonsel replied, not in the accommodation area. Mr. Schrader said that he has had conversations with Greyhound and has been told if a complaint is filed they will pull the station. He said that there has to be a willingness on the part of the owner to have the station. Ms. Price asked if the County could take on the liability. Mr. Schrader answered that is your call. Maintenance of the shelter is not a problem; it is the potential liability, especially during the winter when snowplows will fill in the shelter. Mr. Ross said he is also concerned with the precedent this will set if others request shelters. Mr. Schrader added that the dumpsters at Horizon House cannot be moved due to accessibility. Ms. Tytler added that there is a potential that we will not have that facility in another year or so. Ms. Breed asked about using the eminent domain process. Mr. Schrader said that is an option. Mr. Orrange thanked all for their support of the shelter.
Meeting adjourned at 8:37 AM