Town Board approves electric-car charger, discusses federal aid
The Philipstown Town Board voted 5 to 0 on Sept. 2 to advance a proposed law “to promote the public health, safety and welfare” by banning retail marijuana shops and on-site consumption venues.
Towns, villages and cities in the state have until Dec. 31 to opt out of a state law that will legalize both.
The board scheduled a hearing on Oct. 7 to hear public feedback. If Philipstown opts out, opponents could submit a petition asking that the question be placed on the 2022 ballot. In July, Cold Spring voted to opt out but decided to put the measure on the 2021 ballot. Nelsonville is also considering opting out.
Stephen Gaba, the town attorney, advised the board that by opting out, “you can buy yourselves some more time. You can always opt in later.” He noted that opting-out municipalities that want to opt-in down the road can meanwhile revise zoning laws to regulate the location of marijuana businesses.
Supervisor Richard Shea said that by weighing an opt-out “it’s not that we’re telling everybody” that they can’t consume marijuana, since legal pot “is the law of the land” in New York, and residents will likely be able to purchase it in Beacon or Peekskill if those communities approve retail sales. “But, in the interim, we probably will not,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to install a public, dual-port electric-car charging station at Town Hall, 238 Main St.
Krystal Ford, the town’s Climate Smart Program coordinator, said that the $21,211 price tag will be defrayed by a $8,000 state grant and a rebate from Central Hudson.
Ford and Councilor John Van Tassel said the town and Cold Spring explored another site on Main Street near the railroad tracks but rejected it because of concerns about traffic congestion and downhill stormwater flow.
Shea reported that Philipstown has received the first half of $700,000 authorized by the American Rescue Plan, a federal COVID-19 relief package Congress passed in the spring. The remaining $350,000 should arrive in 2022, he said.
The federal government requires the money to be used for water and sewer or telecommunications-broadband upgrades; to alleviate the economic hardship COVID-19 inflicted on households, small businesses and the travel and tourism sector; or for similar purposes. It must be spent before 2025.
“We’re not going to have a problem” meeting the deadline, Shea said. He mentioned one priority: overhauling the Garrison water district system, which “is hemorrhaging money.”
Nancy Montgomery, who represents Philipstown on the Putnam County Legislature, noted that the county so far has collected $9.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds, or about half what is expected. She suggested some of it could help with tourism-generated expenses in Cold Spring.
Putnam County “is getting a tremendous amount,” Shea remarked. He urged residents to recognize the county “as this amorphous thing. The county is the towns. We are the county. That money needs to come back to the towns, not just get put on pet projects.”
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