Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a TerribleTangled Web We Weave . . .

Things just seem to get more complicated every day with the New Hartford Business Park. Now The Town is planning on eliminating the separate Business Park review panel.

This is a good thing. It takes an unnecessary complication out of the system. Now that the Town is no longer the owner of the Business Park, there is no reason to treat development of the Business Park any differently from any other development.

That said, it now (hopefully) should be apparent that no proper environmental impact statement was ever made for the development that is now being proposed and has partially been completed.
NHBP is now privately owned, no longer designed to be a manufacturing site, and now contains additional land. It is totally different in concept from what was proposed in 1999 when the original Environmental Impact Statement was done.

Before approving of any additional construction, the Planning Board needs to demand an Environmental Impact Statement from the developer addressing issues both on and off the site . . . including a potential school bus garage on land the developer traded to the school district in return for the district's support of a PILOT/TIF scheme.

The Town meanwhile, needs to do an environmental review for another change to its zoning code to add the site of the Hartford to the Business Park, and to change its review procedures, and probably needs to explain why the 1999 EIS for the original zoning change is no longer valid.

New Hartford hopefully has learned that things can get really complicated when you take shortcuts.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

But What About the Environmental Impacts?

Per Today's OD: Unused developer fees spur other problems. Again, the story is about what has happened to all the Fees In Lieu of Mitigation collected by the Town of New Hartford from developers over the last 15-20 years. Where was the money? Does the Town have to return the money? When does the money have to be returned? Where are the agreements that specify the when or where about collecting, spending and returning the money?

Money, MONEY, MONEY . . . Typical New Hartford Fixation.

Why isn't anyone raising a stink about the ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS that those monies were intended to mitigate? Why isn't anyone raising a concern about the PEOPLE who may have been affected by the unmitigated environmental impacts from New Hartford's development?

Just Askin . . .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wake Up Call for Gov. Paterson? . . .

The buzz at the AP is that President Obama is requesting Gov. Paterson to withdraw from the NY Governor's race,  feeling that NY is too important a state for the Democrats to lose and that Patterson won't be able to carry it off with his plummeting approval ratings.

Paterson's ratings were very high when he first took office -- when he was using rather conservative-sounding language about how the state's financial house was not in order and that spending cuts were needed.

Paterson's positive ratings became negative when his actions did not match his rhetoric. After he settled in, he became like all the other big-government big-spenders: Cow-towing to powerful interest groups, buying votes with special programs, jacking up all sorts of fees to pay for it all, spending cuts being more window dressing than real (e.g. mandating printing on both sides of a sheet of paper), telling people how they should live their lives (i.e., they were too fat and required a soda tax), and parroting the line out of DC.

I believe that our governor learned something about New York's problems during his many years in the State Senate, and that the bitter-medicine he tried to make us take when he first took office reflected that experience.  

After Paterson got in, he became subject to the same pressures as his predecessors -- and handled things in the same way. Even though he has been doing all the things his party stands for, like a pawn, the King demands that he must now be sacrificed for the good of his party....

Will the Governor wake up and govern like he knows he should, or will he keep playing the game that has led this state to ruin?

See NYCO for another take.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Long Time Coming . . .

"State 'evaluating' audit possibility for New Hartford" reads the O-D Headline. We can only hope that an audit comes through. While the local media just recently seems to have taken an interest in what might be going on behind closed doors in New Hartford, those of us following the day-to-day action know that things have not been right for years.

Republican council members Christine Krupa and David Reynolds did not directly address the Comptroller’s Office comments in their e-mailed responses to the O-D’s questions.

Krupa said the town’s fiscal problems related directly to the elimination of the town comptroller’s position in 2001.

“I believe that each member of the current Town Board recognizes the need for an experienced municipal finance person, and will ensure that we have one on the payroll, should that particular qualification be absent in the next town supervisor,” she said in an e-mail.

No, Ms. Krupa. NH's fiscal problems have nothing to do with eliminating a comptroller ... because NH's problems are way beyond fiscal.

NH had the best financial "advice" that money could buy -- to the tune of about $150,000. Taxpayers still don't know what they got for this expenditure . . . . and we still see the fiscal problems.

What about The Hartford Building somehow being approved by the Business Park review board when the building was located outside the Business Park? A comptroller would have nothing to do with that decision . . . but someone obviously benefited from the decision.

What about all the storm water problems that seem to plague the Town in areas of new developments? A comptroller would have nothing to do with those either ... but some people obviously were benefited when these developments were approved with insufficient storm water mitigation ... while others have been injured.

And why did the Town Board close the Storm Water Management Group's meetings to the public right after someone started asking questions why Taxpayers were being required to fix problems that were traceable to specific developments?

No, Ms. Krupa. NH's fiscal (and other) problems have nothing to do with eliminating a comptroller. Rather, they are the result of a government that has become arrogant and corrupt.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grassroots Movement?

Per the OD a coalition of Mohawk Valley Community Action, RCIL, MVCC, Catholic Charities, Utica Safe Schools Healthy Students, and other organizations plans to combat poverty.

Sounds benign enough. Who does not want to combat poverty?

One major goal will be to educate the public and get rid of misconceptions that the only people dealing with poverty are “lazy” and on welfare, she said. There are many people who work very hard but can’t get by on what they make, Turner said.

Another effort will be to conduct voter registration campaigns to give people more of a voice in changing their own struggles, she said.


How do "misconceptions" keep people poor? How will "voter registration campaigns" get people jobs?

Training people for jobs and working to create an environment where jobs can flourish will help combat poverty . . . But that is not what is being proposed here.

The inclusion of Utica Safe Schools Healthy Students made me take notice. If you can remember back to 2002, this organization was born under rather opaque circumstances and had some rather disturbing plans (since removed from the UCSD website). (Note: This organization was created under a Federal Dept. of Ed. Program that was promoted by both Presidents Bush and Clinton).

“We’re trying to create almost a movement – a grassroots movement . . .”
The coalition members want to “create a sense of urgency and almost outrage” in order to motivate people to bring about the necessary changes . . .

"Outrage?" Over What? "Necessary Changes?" What changes?

No, this is NOT a "grassroots" movement. All these organizations are funded by GOVERNMENT with OUR TAX DOLLARS . . . And they will use our tax dollars to promote public outrage -- a/k/a public intimidation!

The objective here is anything but combating poverty. The program is geared to (1) ensuring a steady flow of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of friendly not-for-profits, and (2) influencing the political process.

The ultimate goal is to give the Government more control over People, rather than the other way around.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Squirrelly Dealings . . . and a Nut to Crack

The news -- in some parts of the media at least -- has been abuzz about ACORN, that community activist organization caught with phoney voter registrations during the last election, and, just last week, stung by a couple freelance journalists posing as a pimp and prostitute by offering advice to them on how to illegally avoid payment of income taxes and conceal human trafficking.

With the adverse publicity, the Census Bureau late last week severed its relationship with ACORN, which had been enlisted to play a key role in the 2010 decennial count.

Now the US Senate has voted overwhelmingly 83-7 to block ACORN from receiving grants from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Even Sen. Schumer voted to block ACORN from the funds.

Among those 7 who opposed the provision: NY Freshman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Matt Canter, a spokesman for Ms. Gillibrand, responded in a statement of his own that “while Senator Gillibrand finds the actions of certain Acorn employees to be reprehensible and will ask Acorn leaders for a full investigation and plan to prevent any further abuse, the truth remains that thousands of New York families who are facing foreclosure depend on charitable organizations like Acorn for assistance.”
But do thousands of New Yorkers depend on crooked organizations like ACORN? The legislation was only about cutting off ACORN and not "charitable organizations" in general. Gillibrand's vote, thus, can only be interpreted as a vote in support of ACORN.

Ms. Gillibrand styles herself as an Upstater . . . Somehow I don't think her stance on this issue is going to win her any Upstate supporters

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities . . .

There is a great article this month in Governing Magazine contrasting Niagara Falls, New York with Niagara Falls, Ontario: How Bureaucracy and Bickering Brought Down Niagara Falls. Anyone from New York who has been out that way recently has envied the gleaming high-rise skyline of the Canadian side above its well-manicured parks and gardens, and wondered why the New York side couldn't look even half as good. Even with a world-class tourist attraction AND a casino, the New York side still looks like a dump.

The explanation for the difference, of course, is the way we govern ourselves in this state. The article explains not only the plight of N'Fls, NY, but Utica, NY as well.

“I sometimes get the feeling,” says one Canadian official who spends a lot of time on the New York side, “that the state plan for economic development in the region is to employ people as economic developers. You’ve got all these people doing economic development, but there’s not a lot of actual development.”

That seems to sum things up here, too. We need competent leadership both locally and in Albany, but don't have it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Whitestown Water Wondering . . .

Per the OD, people in Whitestown want to tap into a Rome water main that passes right by their houses on the way to Camelot Village in Westmoreland, but Rome is hesitating. Per the article, Whitestown's engineer was waiting to hear if Westmoreland or Camelot wanted to be reimbursed for the cost of installing the waterline. Councilman Sullivan thinks that neither should be reimbursed for work already completed.
“There’s no validity to that idea,” Sullivan said. “You can’t charge people after the fact. I really don’t see a lot of reasons why this shouldn’t move forward.”
This sense of entitlement from a Whitestown official is disturbing! After Westmoreland does all the work, why should Johnny-Come-Lately Whitestown expect to get something for nothing? But "Something-for-Nothing" is apparently part of Whitestown's "M.O." . . .

The Rome Sentinel gives this interesting tidbit:
[T]he town has been collecting a water fee from the residents along the route, so there is money set aside to pay for access.
People have been paying Whitestown for Something, but Getting Nothing.

The Winter 2008 Whitestown News gives the scoop:

The Town Board has been working to develop a cost-effective way to fund the installation of public water mains for Town residents along NYS Route 233 and the westerly end of Suttliff Road. Several years ago the Town Board and Camelot Village negotiated an equitable agreement to share in the construction of water mains extending from the Whitestown Business Park to NYS Route 233. However, the continuing disagreement between the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and Canal Corporation has prevented the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing a Water Supply Permit necessary to allow the MVWA to provide water service to Westmoreland (and Camelot Village). Camelot Village and the Town of Westmoreland recently negotiated an agreement with the City of Rome to supply water to Camelot Village. Westmoreland will construct water mains along NYS Route 233 within NYSDOT right-of-way from the Rome/Whitestown line to Camelot Village . . .
What appears to have happened (and I invite Whitestown officials to set the record straight if I misunderstood something) is that Whitestown and Westmoreland had entered into a sharing agreement that fell through when MVWA was unable to secure a permit from DEC to supply the water that would go into the pipe... but Whitestown has gone forward and billed the residents anyway. Why is Whitestown still collecting money? Where has this money gone?

There is more to this story . . . more to question that is . . .

Contrasting the MVWA vs Rome supplier situations raises an interesting question: If a DEC permit was needed for MVWA to supply Westmoreland, would not one also have been required for Rome to supply Westmoreland? 6 NYCRR Part 601 (DEC's Water Supply Regulations) §601.3 requires a permit before agreements for water supply are entered into -- as well as several other circumstances that seem to apply here. However, searching the Environmental Notice Bulletin turned up no water supply permit application for Rome to supply Westmoreland.

Did Camelot Village/Westmoreland secure a permit from DEC to obtain water from Rome? Or did Rome secure a permit from DEC to supply water to Westmoreland?

If there has been an application for a DEC permit, it would appear that ECL 15-1521 could be used by DEC to force the issue of Rome supplying Whitestown.

Lastly, doesn't it seem a bit odd that Westmoreland can just up and ram pipes through Whitestown (with State DOT cooperation) and Whitestown has no right to say anything about it? This story seems stranger the more you think about it.

Government serves whom it wants to serve -- but it's usually the "little people" who pay their taxes and pay their fees who wind up taking the pipe.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

FILM Flam in New Hartford . . .

New Hartford is apparently "confused" about where to spend $3.3 million of "Fees In Lieu of Mitigation" collected from developers over the years.

Strikeslip is confused about where the Town got the legal authority to collect such fees in the first place. There is nothing in the State Environmental Quality Review Act that authorizes anyone to take money in lieu of mitigating an adverse environmental impact. A review of the New Hartford Town Code turned up nothing that authorizes the Town to collect such fees.

Concerned Citizens have been led to believe that the Town is relying on Generic Environmental Impact Statements as providing the legal authority to enact a voluntary FILM.

Since when does a Generic Environmental Impact Statement confer legal authority? That idea is simply PREPOSTEROUS. Town officials need to trace the source of such a notion because this is simply wrong. Towns can only do what State Law allows them to do. Municipal Home Rule law allows the Town to take state authority and confer it upon itself under certain circumstances, by enacting its own law. A GEIS is not a law.

Unless there is a provision of the New Hartford Code that I overlooked, there is neither a State law nor a local law that authorizes collection of Fees in Lieu of Mitigation. In other words, the collection of such fees is illegal because it is unauthorized.

What seems to be going on, however, may be worse than that "merely" being illegal . . .

SEQRA is clear that adverse impacts must be mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. The Town may refuse to issue permits if it determines that impacts are not sufficiently mitigated.

There are three possible things happening, none of which are acceptable. (1) The Town is using its authority to require mitigation to extort "voluntary" contributions from developers as Fees In LIEU of Mitigation. (2) The Town is actually allowing degradation of the Town environment -- unmitigated adverse environmental impacts -- by accepting Fees in LIEU of Mitigation. (3) Those running the Town haven't a clue what they are doing.

Are the Developers being FILM Flammed -- or the Residents?

There's more from NH Online.