The discussion of a state highway floating zone, Plattekill employee healthcare plans and a possible Easter egg hunt were the Plattekill Town Board’s focus this past Wednesday at their biweekly meeting.
Patrick Hines proposed a state highway floating zone plan that can be adopted into local law by the Town of Plattekill and has worked closely with Plattekill Town Supervisor Joseph Croce, Cindy Hillbert, chair of the Plattekill Planning Board, and Paul Keller, their attorney,
This state highway floating zone would focus on the areas that front on the state highway corridors allowing for possible future building projects. After working with their attorney, Hines explains that after many revisions the only issue is the time constraint of how long the implementation process must take but the use of this floating zone could be very essential to the Town of Plattekill.
The process of this code approval will begin with the Town Board, who will then pass it to the Planning Board, and after the Planning Board goes through their normal planning process, it will then be sent back to the Town Board in order to hold a public hearing putting the code into local law.
“The reason I have that in there is because by the local law changing the parcel to a floating zone, it does that in perpetuity unless you have the sunset clause,” Hines said. “If they don’t act on that then in 10, 15, 20 years down the road, conditions of the town may change. The facts that existed when you approved it may change. So I thought it would be a good thing to have that sunset clause or revert back to the original zoning.”
Councilman Darryl Matthews agrees with Hines’ reasoning behind the sunset clause, as conditions that would substantially affect the floating zone can change if it is not adopted into local law within a certain period of time, such as possible traffic and neighborhood changes.
Hines said that there is another idea of a separate time constraint as well, regarding the amount of time that a project needs to be completed within, as their attorney referred to examples of big projects beginning in different municipalities that never came to fruition.
“I’ll play devil’s advocate. So they’ll get two years to get the project going [and their building permit],” Supervisor Croce said. “And then we’re going to say they get an addition three years after they get their building permit. Would it make sense for that not to be set in stone ... due to circumstances outside of the applicant’s control?”
Hines and Croce agreed that certain verbiage is essential, and using “may” instead of “will” regarding the Board’s actions does not lock them in to approving all proposed projects for the floating zone. This is to ensure that if any extenuating circumstances arise, projects can be halted.
The board decided to approve the sunset clause for two years and the floating zone will be revisited by the Town Board at a public hearing after the Planning Board completes their necessary processes.
Next, the matter of healthcare for employees of the Town of Plattekill was discussed, where the board agreed to continue the use of their current healthcare plan from MVP Health Care. Although there will be an increase approximately between 4 and 5%, Croce and the board do believe that for the cost it is the best possible plan as other health care providers have shown double-digit percent increases.
Croce expressed concern for the price increase, but shared that the town budgeted explicitly to offset the price of a very high increase and hopefully are able to help patrons pay the difference.
Easter egg hunt
The next order of business: the annual Easter egg hunt. Stephanie Doland, Recreation Director, messaged Croce to share ideas in order to maintain a socially distanced and fun day on April 10 for the children of Plattekill to provide some sense of normalcy.
Doland offered one idea where she would have prepackaged bags that she would pack wearing gloves, while allowing one person (or family who reside in the same home) under the gazebo at a time to take pictures with the Easter Bunny. She also gave the idea of a “drive-thru” Easter egg hunt where the children would be in their cars and wait in line to see the Easter Bunny.
While members of the board expressed concerns on how to manage over 100 kids while following COVID-19 guidelines, Councilman Matthews defends that children need to experience some time of social life during this hard and scary time.
“It’s the world we live in right now. I’m not saying it’s going to stay that way, but unfortunately this is what we have to live with,” Matthews said. “You got these kids that are interacting with a couple of hundred kids per day, whether they’re talking to him or not, you’re still interacting. Now, you’re stuck in your house with just your family, and that definitely changes your mentality as a kid, because you don’t have that interaction. It’s the difference [between] being homeschooled compared to being in a public school, you have better interaction and are able to handle [different] situations, just because of that. So to me, the more we can get people, hopefully, out of their houses, and get back to somewhat of a reality of normal, that would be great.”
The board agreed with Matthews, but Councilman Farrelly also advised that before concrete decisions are made, the board must know more details regarding the outcome of the event and social distancing plans.
The next Plattekill Town Board meeting will be held on March 3 at 7 p.m. at the Plattekill Town Hall.