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Friday headlines

Apr 22, 2011 6:29 am
Robinson residents: Leave our street alone
Jamie Larson reports in the Register-Star on the April 21 Hudson Historic Preservation Commission public hearing on a proposal to declare Robinson Street in the Second Ward an historic district. Local residents came out en masse, according to Larson, to put forth their belief that the designation would drive the many low income, aging, longtime homeowners and renters from their homes. "Many stated the burden of having to maintain their houses to the historical standards of the commission would make maintaining their homes impossible," Larson writes. "Residents from and around Robinson Street in Hudson spoke out with skepticism, disapproval and at times anger against a plan proposed by the non profit preservation group Historic Hudson to designate their neighborhood a new historic district." Supervisor and Robinson Street resident Rev. Edward Cross, D-Second Ward, has taken a hard line on the issue, saying that he believes this is the first step in a conscious effort by Hudson’s upper class to push the poor out of the Second Ward so they can gain access to the quiet, out of the way Robinson neighborhood and eventually the properties overlooking the river where the majority of the city’s low income residents live in project housing. To create a new historic district the HPC would have to make an official recommendation to the Common Council and the aldermen would have to approve it. If approved, residents would have to get certificates of appropriateness from the HPC if they wanted to get a building permit from the zoning enforcement officer for things like putting up siding, changing windows, additions to the front or the restoration of a visible roof. The HPC does not approve plans for putting up vinyl siding but does make determinations about the appropriateness of paint color choice The next meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission is May 13.

Watershed towns race to shift hamlet boundaries
Blake Killin reports in the Daily Mail on the ramifications of a June 22 deadline within the New York City Watershed, which includes all of Greene County's Mountaintop towns, for making changes to town's official hamlet boundaries. Lands within such designations are exempt from New York City land acquisition policies and some of its watershed regulations. The towns are notifying affected property owners and conducting public hearings explaining the proposed changes and how they might affect property owners. "Under the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement, NYC was permitted to avoid having to filter the water from the West of Hudson Watershed by imposing regulations designed to protect the water supply of some nine million New Yorkers," Killin writes. "Part of that agreement allowed NYC to purchase environmentally sensitive vacant land from willing sellers at fair market price." When a Filtration Avoidance Determination came up for renewal before the federal Environmental Protection Agency last decade, NYC was told to increase the amount of money dedicated to land acquisition to $300 million.

Home improvement forecast not good for contractors
The Albany Business Review has a story about the longterm forecast for home improvement spending following an expected burst of activity this spring. According to a report released today by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University,contractors, hardware stores and material suppliers are facing trouble ahead. The Joint Center points to a slow recovery in the housing market and concern over the pace of economic growth nationally as reasons why home improvement spending will be tempered. Such spending dropped sharply during the recession, bottoming out at $112 billion during the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There was a mild recovery last year. But spending is forecast to fall in the second half of the year, dropping to $115.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

Cell towers on the rise

Diane Valden writes in The Columbia Paper that Mariner Tower of Maine is seeking approval for a new higher-than-usual cell tower from the Copake Planning Board. Mariner has an existing tower at the Catamount Ski Area on the New York side of the border and has just wrapped up approvals for a new 140-foot tower on the Egremont, MA, side, also at Catamount. The company is also currently building a new tower on the southwest side of Route 23 between the Martindale Xtra Mart and the Martindale Diner, just east of the Taconic State Parkway in Claverack. And the company is “actively pursuing” an appropriate cell tower site in Ancram. Mariner agent Christopher Ciolfi told The Columbia Paper this week that the company calls its communications towers “neutral hosts” that benefit the community by letting emergency services use the facility rent free, while leasing tower space to multiple users to minimize the number of towers in an area. “Four or five providers use one tower, rather than each one having their own tower,” said Mr. Ciolfi. The Copake Planning Board will take up the proposed cell tower at its Thursday, May 5 meeting.

Athens village contemplates 3.38% tax hike
Melanie Lekocevic writes in the Greene County News about a sparesely-attended Athens Village Board public hearing to gauge public reaction to a tentative budget for the coming year which includes a 3.38 percent tax rate increase. While some questioned cuts to the community's growing cultural center, which offers art classes and numerous performances and events, Mayor Andrea Smallwood noted, “We are going to try to get that down... This is a draft budget - we are still reviewing it.”

Highway super says this winter one of ‘roughest’
John Mason writes in the Register-Star that Kinderhook Town Highway Superintendent John Ruchel has noted that his highway crew is about two weeks behind on spring tasks such as brush pickup and road cleaning. “This winter was huge,” he said. “The snow never left the ground after December. Every week there were potential weather threats.” Meanwhile, meteorologist Thomas Wasula of the National Weather Service in Albany said that this winter’s 87.2 inches of snow, measured at Albany Airport, is 14th on the all-time list, which goes back to 1885. It was 25 inches above the average snowfall of 62.7 inches. It was the heaviest snowfall since the 105.4 inches recorded in 2002-2003, and not far behind the 94.2 inches that fell in 1992-1993.

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