City council schedules remote-access public hearings

By Lina Wu
Posted 5/20/20

Newburgh held its first May City Council meeting last Monday over Zoom. During the meeting, the council scheduled two public hearings

On May 28, the council will hold a public hearing for the …

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City council schedules remote-access public hearings

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Newburgh held its first May City Council meeting last Monday over Zoom. During the meeting, the council scheduled two public hearings

On May 28, the council will hold a public hearing for the amendment of the community development block grant [CDBG]. The amendment is for the citizens participation plan for the CDBG.

“There are provisions that have been included in the citizen’s participation plan that would allow the city to undertake public participation processes such as, virtual meetings and observations and email comments in times of emergency,” said Michelle Kelson, Corporation Counsel.

“But we’re not able to meet in person and conduct those public participation by our more traditional means. This step is a preliminary step in order to be able to access the COVID related CARES bonds that had been allocated to community development block grant grantee.”

In order to consider what will be the allocation of the CARES bonds, the council has to hold the public hearing. Around half a million dollars have been awarded to the city via the CARES bonds for matters of COVID-19.

The city sent out a survey to residents of the city to see their opinions on how the CARES bonds can be used. The results will be presented at the next city work session. Potential plans for the funds will also be presented.

In order to make a comment during the public hearing, one will have to preregister. A notice for the public hearing is out on the city’s website, and in other forms of media.

Everyone who registers will be given a participant number, and then allowed into the public hearing to mark their comment.

Public comments will also be taken via email.

The council will also hold a public hearing on May 28 for a local law concerning amending chapter 172 of the Code of Ordinances to add “Article II-Fireworks & Sparkling Device.” This local law is seeking the ban of the sale and usage of fireworks and sparkling devices.

“I was really concerned about the data given on the number of fires and calls to the police department and also the emergency room visits,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “This is something I would definitely support [a ban].”

Monteverde said that when July 4 comes she has concerns over the safety of fireworks and sparkling devices. Misuse of fireworks and sparking devices can cause dangerous situations like fires.

Councilman Anthony Grice raised concerns over residents purchasing sparkling devices and fireworks in other municipalities and bringing them to the city. He hopes that Orange County can make it into a county-wide ban.

Still, concerns were raised over how to enforce the ban. Mayor Torrance Harvey said that he hopes that in the future a coalition can be formed in between municipalities to have a county wide ban.

Councilman Omari Shakur said he can’t support the ban, because it isn’t clear on how the police department can enforce it successfully.

“We need to communicate very clearly to our citizens that hey it’s [fireworks and sparkling devices] not allowed in the City of Newburgh,” said Councilman Bob Sklarz on the ban.

A vote will take place at the conclusion of the public hearing.

Those interested in submitting comments regarding the agenda and general matter of city business can email comments@cityofnewburgh-ny.gov with the subject line “PUBLIC COMMENT ITEM” by 4 p.m. on May 22.

One can email the same address by 4 p.m. on May 27 with the subject line “PUBLIC HEARING ITEM” to comment on the upcoming public hearings.

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