Jan 14, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
Under new leadership, the Spafford town board discussed a number of changes in personnel and policies at its Jan. 9 reorganizational meeting.
Town Supervisor Mary Bean announced that she would be interviewing candidates for a position as the town attorney.
In the past, the town has used the legal services of Syracuse-based Hiscock and Barclay as needed, their rate for this year would have been $225 an hour.
Bean said, if the town can afford it, she would like to have an attorney who is able to attend town board, planning and zoning board meetings as needed. Having a person at the meeting who is knowledgeable about the law and can give advice on the spot would help a number of decisions move along more quickly, she said.
“We talked about the need for legal services in several contexts sitting here at the table tonight, so this is an issue that is right at the top of my agenda,” she said.
The board also moved to advertise for a new code enforcement officer. Howard Tanner, a temporary code officer, will stay on through the board’s February meeting. Tanner was hired in 2013 to fill in when previous code officer Kim Fairchild resigned. The position pays a salary of $20,000 a year.
Bean also talked about wanting to start a parks and recreation committee and an ethics committee, both made up of volunteers from the community.
The ethics committee would advise the board on matters such as the town’s proposed code of ethics, which was presented as a new local law at the meeting. An ethics committee was initially formed in 2005, but never met, Bean said.
The parks and recreation committee would be tasked with evaluating the town’s parks and recreation offerings. The town currently pays a stipend of $1,000 to the town of Scott for Spafford residents to use Scott’s swimming area and recreation programs.
Bean said she would like the committee to investigate the possibility of the Spafford acquiring land for a new park, possibly on the waterfront of either Otisco of Skaneateles Lake.
Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Kathy Bragg-Adams reported that the zoning board would like to make changes to several parts of the zoning law to correct inconsistencies and technical issues.
Bragg-Adams said that the board would also like to get started on writing a town comprehensive plan. Having a comprehensive plan is highly recommended by the state and Spafford is one of the few towns that does not have one.
The plan would be a document of about 10 pages that would be built around community input and would help give direction and “community voice” to zoning laws. Though Bragg-Adams did not ask for the board to approve any expenses, the plan would eventually require the assistance of a lawyer before it could be approved, she said.
A number of residents in the town have said that the way zoning laws are enforced has been inconsistent in the past and amending zoning laws as well as drafting a comprehensive plan could help correct those issues, Bean said.
“It’s an issue of fairness,” she said.
—Tanner made a recommendation that the board move forward with tearing down the house at 66 Spafford Landing. The building, which is unoccupied, is in danger of falling down and causing safety or environmental problems in the area, he said.
Complaints about the building date back to 2004. In October 2012, the board gave the property owner 45 days to correct the issues, though nothing was ever done. The cost of the demolition could be levied on the property tax bill, though the town needs an attorney to advise them on how to best proceed with the process.
—Tanner also reported problems with the highway department barn that he found while doing a fire inspection. He recommended that the town bring in an engineer to better assess how to fix the problems.
Highway Superintendent Carl Wiers said that some of the issues could be corrected by highway department workers. The board authorized him to spend $1,450 on a locker to properly store toxic chemicals outside the building. Another issue, the roof, is included in the budget and will be done this year.
—The board moved to hire Tom Adessa to be town constable at a rate of $18 an hour. He will provide security for town court and town meetings if needed. Adessa is also the constable for the town of Skaneateles.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.