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Some had anticipated a larger
crowd because of full-page ads taken out in the Ulster County Townsman
by Citizens for Progress urging people to attend over a range of issues,
many unrelated to the law. The group is generally seen as comprised
of the developer's supporters, and frames its communications in terms
of property rights. Besides being a smaller crowd, it was also a more
civil one than has been evident at town meetings in recent months, with
audience members listening more or less respectfully to speakers on
both sides of the issue. Not counting lawyers, 9 spoke out against the
law; 6 in favor of it, and one was on the fence.
"This will not be a debate," said Supervisor Pete Di Modica
in opening the hearing, "It's a public hearing. No speaking out
of turn or we'll never get out of here." Di Modica ceded the floor
to Jeff Baker, special counsel to the Town for its review of the project,
who outlined the purpose of the law. The Resort project is undergoing
a New York State Environmental Quality Review, in which the Town Board
and the Planning Board are involved agencies.
"As an involved agency, they have an affirmative legal obligation
to comment," said Baker. The catch is that under SEQR, Crossroads
is only obligated to pay fees for consultants retained for a review
by the lead agency, which is the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation. In those relatively unusual instances when the host community
of a proposed development project has not been named lead agency, Baker
said that the developer normally negotiates an amount and voluntarily
provides funds to the town, so that it can fully participate in the
review. As Crossroads has chosen not to do that, this may be the first
time in State history a developer has refused to provide funds for local
municipal review, the situation which precipitated Shandaken's draft
Crossroads principal Dean Gitter, however, has said that the company
has paid for the town's review in that the DEC hired consultants on
the town's behalf to assess the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
under SEQR. Neither the planning board nor the town has been allowed
direct access to the consultant. In addition, Should the project be
approved by DEC, a site plan review will come before Shandaken's planning
board, at which time the developer will pay fees to the town
A new fee schedule negotiated by Planning Board counsel Drayton Grant
in consultation with Crossroads was adopted by the Board Monday night.
Those site plan review fees however, have no relevance to the Town's
participation in the SEQRA process which comes first.Last month Baker
publicly suggested that if the developer would be willing to pay its
projected site review fees of approximately $73,000 in advance, the
necessity of passing the proposed local law "might go away",
an offer to which the developer has never responded. Baker had asked
the company to submit the plan now so that the board could use those
fees for the SEQRA portion of the review, In response, Crossroads' Gary
Gailes, said that the plan is subject to change and that it will not
be submitted until after the SEQR process is finished. "If [the
planning board doesn't] participate in the process during SEQR, they
will be severely impaired in being able to do a thorough review,"
Di Modica read into the record letters and resolutions supporting the
Town's position on its funding problem and its proposed local law from
the New York State Association of Towns, the Coalition of Watershed
Towns, and from the Ulster County Supervisors Association as well as
a letter from Mark Gersten, the attorney representing Friends of Catskill
Park in support of the Town's law. Di Modica also announced that the
cap on review fees in the proposed local law had been dropped by half,
to 1/8 of 1 percent of a commercial project's construction costs, for
those rare instances as the current Crossroads one, where the law would
actually apply. Tanya Smith thanked Di Modica for clarification on what
the law was about, but said, "I'm not happy paying for anything
anytime I want to do something to my house." She seemed relieved
to learn that the proposed law had nothing to do with individual homes
or homeowners. Dan Ruzow, counsel for Crossroads, said, "We believe
this local law is in conflict with state law." He also said that
Baker was exaggerating the role played by an involved agency and said
that it was up to the discretion of that agency as to how thorough its
review need be.
Bob Cross, a local surveyor, rumored to be thinking of running for office
in November's election, asked the audience how it felt about the law,
and was met by a mixed response. "Well, I see there's some division
here," he said.
Gerry Setchko, leader of the Shandaken's Republican Club and a possible
candidate for Supervisor in November, questioned why the town even needed
to be involved in the SEQR process.
Judy Wyman, Chair of Friends of Catskill Park, stressed that thus far,
nearly the entire Crossroads review has been paid for with taxpayer
money, and that the developer is now demanding that Shandaken residents
pay for a review which the company should be funding. Adam Nagy, founder
of the Catskill Heritage Alliance, said that the developer misrepresents
the burden his project will exact on taxpayers when saying he'll supply
his own police force, because according to Nagy, private police are
only supplemental to municipal police.
Bob Linge, founder of Citizens for Progress, said that the only winner
in the legal battle that would ensue if such a law were to be passed
would be Jeff Baker.Rob Stanley, a plumber and president of the board
of the Shandaken Theatrical Society, lamented the loss of common sense
in the town, critiqued Di Modica's having obtained support for the law
from Groups representing many of the state's municipalities, likening
his role to that of a Fuller Brush salesman. Stanley characterized the
law as "a ploy disguised as legislation to drive this developer
from this town." His remarks were met with heavy applause. Other
speakers were Rose Dorn, Dave Channon, Chuck Perez, Larry Bauer, Loren
Quimby, Mary Herrmann, Barbara Lumbaca, Mark Dixon and Joan Lawrence-Bauer.
"People come into the Review Board mad, they come in cursing,"
said Bea, "but they usually leave happy even if they don't get
what they want. I think it's because they understand we try to be fair,
but also that we have to go by the rules, and sometimes the rules just
need to be explained to them. There really isn't much latitude. In 1978
we went to full assessment and we had 600 people come in to grieve.
This year we had 5 people come in, plus 4 corrections. We're doing something
Asked what that is, Bea's answer is succinct. " Let me put it this
way. Rosalie Boland is the best assessor this town's ever had. She's
caring, she listens, and she's hasn't got a mind set about anything.
And she'll change her mind if she sees somebody's right". After
growing up on Staten Island, Bea married Chuck Schwartz and moved to
Shandaken in 1959. "Chuck was fishing one day and it started to
snow. We knew there was a house for sale nearby so we went over. Anna
Ernst had just taken an apple cobbler out of the oven. When we'd all
finished it they asked if we wanted to see the house. Chuck said no,
it wasn't necessary, we'd take it. We never left the dining room."
"My husband's interests were in the Esopus," said Bea. "We
were never interested in politics, just in the environment. These days
of course, they come down to the same thing, at least here." For
much of his life, Chuck, who died this past January, was a guiding light
of the Phoenicia Fish and Game Association and the Ulster County Sportsman's
Federation; his reputation was always as one of the leading authorities
on the area's water and wildlife. A Chief Engineer in the Merchant Marine,
he arranged his work schedule around fishing & hunting seasons,
and later, after he retired, around the battles he fought to protect
But outside of Chuck's leadership roles on environmental issues, the
couple always led very private lives. A lifelong dealer in antiques,
Bea was at one time regarded as a leading authority on Steuben glass,
and up until two years ago, her business was trading jewelry at antique
shows, which required a fair amount of travel. Part of the privacy they
kept was based on Bea's disappointment about the level of self-interest
that she felt motivated many in town whom she's known over the years.
"Too often we saw people who were all for themselves," Bea
said. "My husband enjoyed helping people. He always made the time
to help or fix something for somebody. It wasn't about money, like it
is for a lot of people. "But these people who are coming to town
now, these past 10, 20 years, these are nice people, good people. They'll
straighten things out because most of them have seen more and they're
smart. They're harder to fool than a lot of the people that grew up
here. I think half the people who are pro-Gitter are on his payroll,
and the other half are hooples that wanna be. They don't understand
that big development isn't just going to screw up their town - it's
doing that already and it's not even built. It's also going to increase
their taxes, and if this development comes in, a lot of them are going
to be forced to go live somewhere else. "When Chuck died my income
went down to $600 a month. That's why I had to sell my house, and the
same thing's going to happen to a lot of other people. I was lucky because
Nola (Gutmann) got me my asking price in about two weeks, from the nicest
people in the world. So I just bought a little place in Ocala (FL) and
I guess I'll spend some time there. But I'm also going to keep my residence
here. I've got 3 more years to go on the Review Board."
Ulster County Republicans gathered at the Holiday Inn
for their annual convention a couple of weeks ago, nominating 31 candidates
for the county Legislature and backing four GOP incumbents in countywide
races in November.The 31 GOP nominees fell two short of a full slate
in the two districts that comprise most of the city of Kingston. Kingston
Republican Chairman Richard Cahill Jr. said he expects to fill those
two slots through the petition process, currently underway.
Similarly, County Demo District 7 (All of Esopus and Rosendale, three
legislators): Democrats Matthew Greene of Ulster Park, Manna Jo Greene
of Rosendale and incumbent Alan Lomita of Rosendale versus Republicans
Glenn Kubista of Port Ewen and incumbents Joan Every of Rosendale and
Brian Hathaway of Bloomington.
District 8 (All of Gardiner, most of Shawangunk, and
part of New Paltz, three legislators): Democrats Doris Chorney of Shawangunk
and Tracy Bartle and Louise Trancynger of Gardiner against Republicans
Kevin Hunt of Wallkill and incumbents Albert Meyer of Wallkill and Glenn
Noonan of Gardiner.
District 9 (All of Plattekill and Marlboro, and part of Shawangunk,
four legislators): Democrats Jonathan Ridgeway of Plattekill and Victor
Work of Wallkill, plus two slots yet to be filled, against Republican
incumbents Frank Felicello and Richard Gerentine of Marlboro, Wayne
Harris of Clintondale and William McAfee of Highland.
District 10 (Most of New Paltz, two legislators): Democrats Susan Zimet
Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz versus Republicans Kevin Harp of New Paltz
and incumbent Barbara Santoro of New Paltz.
District 11 (All of Highland and part of New Paltz, two legislators):
Frank Giordano and Sandy Avampato of Highland against Republican incumbents
Elizabeth Alfonso and Charles Busick of Highland
District 12 (Part of the city of Kingston, two legislators): Democrats
Loughran and incumbent David Donaldson, both of Kingston, versus Republican
incumbent John Naccarato of Kingston and a second candidate yet to be
County Democrats also endorsed four incumbent Republicans in countywide
races: County Judge J. Michael Bruhn and Family Court Judge Marianne
O. Mizel, each for a second 10-year term, District Attorney Donald A.
Williams for a second four-year term and County Clerk Albert Spada for
the office he's held for 36 years.