By RACHEL COLEMAN
“This is something that I’ve wanted to start for quite some time,” said Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher.
During their work session last week, the town board created an advisory committee on opioid, drug and alcohol abuse.
Supervisor Maher explained that since the start of the pandemic, the issue has been heightened in many different and very challenging ways, but that a solar farm in the town has given the town funding which can be used at the town’s discretion to help raise awareness.
The advisory committee will be comprised of residents and no more than two town board members, including the supervisor.
“We’re going to identify issues in the community and use whatever funding we have at our disposal to address those needs as we see fit,” said Maher.
The town board was also hoping to form a town-wide ambulance district, however they canceled the scheduled public hearing prior to Thursday’s meeting.
Supervisor Maher explained that they had failed to take into account that each village in the town would need to have a public hearing and similar process. Despite the research and steps already completed by the town, the oversight means a considerable delay—at least a year.
“We’re all disappointed. I’m disappointed,” said Maher, adding that he takes the blame for the delay. “It does give us another year to research the issue, perfect it even more and involve our neighbors formally in the process, with the villages, which probably should have happened in the beginning.”
The district, according to the public hearing notice, was to have a maximum budget of $1 million and would have added an estimated $77 to the tax bill of a “typical town property.”
“The town is still here to support our ambulance corps,” said Supervisor Maher. “We’re going to be supporting them this year and we’re going to make sure the ambulance services are maximized to the level that we deserve here in the town of Montgomery.”
Maher said the next step is to create “buy in” with the village leadership and adjust the proposal based on their feedback. He does not expect this process to take more than six months.
A few other items on the evening’s agenda were postponed or set down for future hearings, including a proposed annexation with the village of Maybrook. The proposal has been scheduled for a virtual public meeting between the involved municipal boards on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Further information on the meeting was to be posted online.
An application for a moratorium waiver on Neelytown Road was set down for a public hearing on Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. and the stormwater plan proposal to be presented by Delaware Engineering was also moved to that evening.
In addition, the town will be looking into a few suggestions from the public: to create a 5 ton weight limit for Beaver Dam Road due to truck traffic; to rezone the Colden Mansion Ruins located at the intersection of Route 17K and Route 747 from industrial to parkland; and to institute a moratorium on new gas stations within the town.
Meanwhile, the town board has been researching a possible town leash law that would clarify existing town code and require dog owners to have their dogs on a leash when off their property.
“I pray that you all see the wisdom in this,” said Mark Tierney, a local realtor who brought the proposal to the town supervisor and addressed the board during their work session last week.
Tierney said he discovered there is no leash law other than in the town parks after an incident involving the new owner of a property he had sold in the town. The new owner was returning home when they found themselves pinned in their vehicle by their neighbor’s loose dogs.
“The obvious thing of dog bites is pretty understandable. I’ve been bitten twice. My buyer…was bitten once in the face. It’s a traumatic event in anyone’s life,” said Tierney, asking that the town create a leash law. “In the town of Montgomery a dog can run out in front of a car, causing car accidents and run down a kid on a bicycle.”
Meanwhile, according to Tierney, owners are required to use a leash no more than six feet long when they take their dog off their property in the neighboring towns of Crawford and Newburgh.
Supervisor Maher said that while there is a law in place for the town’s parks and a law dating back to 2002, he feels the issue does need clarification. The board agreed to have their attorney, Will Frank, draft a leash law for the town. Concerns about working farm dogs were also acknowledged and are being taken into consideration.
In the meantime, the board heard a presentation from the Business Council of Greater Montgomery, which was incorporated last summer and “kind of took the place of the Town of Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.”
Randi Picarello made a presentation on behalf of the council, asking the town to carry a membership as “it helps us carry the operating costs instead of it resting solely on the shoulders of the small businesses that are hurting right now.”
It was noted that the town already provides space for the council free of charge.
Members of the board stated the council is a “great” program and “worthwhile” and given the town’s budget, decided to drop the town’s membership in the Orange County Partnership and purchase a corporate membership in the Business Council of Greater Montgomery at a cost of $2,500 for 2021.
The town board also approved a trial “defensive tactics” program which would offer vital training to town police officers. It was noted that when the town’s officers graduate from the police academy, there is “no real mandated” training that follows. For $2,100 all of the town’s officers will be able to participate in the training for 90 days at Fat Cat Jiu Jitsu in Walden. The training involves how to de-escalate and properly arrest and control individuals without injury to all parties.
In addition, the town board adopted a new Building Department fee schedule and made its reorganizational appointments, approving Walter Karsten’s return to the ARB for a five year term, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2020.
The town board also accepted the resignation of Alexandria Abbruzzese and hired two part-time clerks to be cross-trained for the building and planning departments and IDA.