Philipstown Adds Preservation Law to Town Code

Board also extends food scrap recycling hours

The Philipstown Town Board last week unanimously enacted a law allowing the town to protect land of natural or historical value by buying it or helping property owners save it through conservation easements or similar arrangements.

The law formally enshrines in the town code a 96-page preservation plan endorsed by the board on Aug. 3.

Adoption of the law came Sept. 13 at Town Hall in a workshop. In its 3-0 vote, the Town Board did not provide a way to fund the program but left the door open to later adoption of a real-estate transaction fee, with voter approval. As required by state law, before passing the measure the board finalized an environmental impact statement that found the law brings no unwanted consequences.

Two members missed the Sept. 13 workshop, but six days earlier the supervisor and four councilors, who comprise the Town Board, had welcomed the conservation initiative.

“If we can preserve all the properties that possibly could help the community in the long run, it’s a good thing,” said Councilor Robert Flaherty on Sept. 7. Councilor Megan Cotter acknowledged that at present “there’s no fee” to subsidize the plan, “but who knows what the future holds.”

Also on Sept. 7, in a public hearing, only two residents spoke; both favored the effort. Nelsonville resident Heidi Wendel called board support “fabulous,” although she added that “I would really, really like to see it funded.” Wendel, who served on the committee that drafted the plan, emphasized that it would not only assist public acquisition of land but aid owners wishing to preserve environmentally crucial areas without selling them.

The Hudson Highlands Land Trust offered its expertise in preparing the document and a Garrison resident, Claudio Marzollo, urged the board to continue utilizing such public-private partnerships.

In other business on Sept. 13, the board unanimously agreed to add, on a trial basis, another opportunity — Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — to the hours for dropping off food scraps at the town recycling center-old landfill on Lane Gate Road.

Flaherty said extending the time permanently depends on sufficient use.

Philipstown food-scrap salvaging advocates report that the program collects, on average, 700 pounds a week, or more than 17 tons yearly.

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