Executive Board Meeting – Aug 17, 2015

In attendance: Carl Stuendel, Mike McCrary, Ric Coombe, Bruce Dolph, Tony Coiro, Tony Van Glad, Mark Tuthill, Karl Gonzalez, Don Murray, Greg Vurckio, Jake Rosa.

Others: Atty Kevin Young, Atty Allyson Phillips, Marge Miller, Michelle Yost, John Mathiesen, Tim Cox, Alan Rosa, Molly Oliver

1. Call to order: 6:17 PM.

2. Introductions (old members and those newly elected).

3. Carl: Brief overview of where we’ve been and where we’ve been headed.
a. Thanks to Alan Rosa and CWC.

b. 1974 Federal Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) as amended 1986 led to EPA’s promulgation of Surface Water Treatment Rules (SWTR) in 1989 with emphasis placed on filtration; NYC seeking a filtration avoidance determination (FAD) attempted to dictate to farmers, businesses and communities in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds the changes they would have to make (at their own expense) for NYC to become eligible for a FAD (https://vimeo.com/82102057);

c. As said by Paul Rush, NYC thought they could come up here and do the same thing they had done when they built the reservoirs. But they ran into difficulty.

d. Farmers and communities organized ‑‑ in 1991, the Ad Hoc Task Force on Agriculture and NYC Watershed Regulations (forerunner to the 1993 Watershed Ag Council) was formed and in the same year the Coalition of Watershed Towns (CWT) was formed.

e. Over the years turnover in the municipal leadership has resulted in a fragmentary familiarity with this history.

f. There is a push on the part of the City now to tighten controls and regulations often through the permitting process.

g. Six years of negotiations between US EPA, NYC, NYS, environmental groups, and CWT led to the 1997 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and the formation of the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC). The MOA calls not only for the protection of water quality, but also for the continued economic viability of watershed communities.

h. CWT suspended its operation at that time. They had gotten done what they set out to do. CWC would manage the programs CWT had worked for.

i. Pat Meehan revived the organization. It is now acting again in an advocacy role.

j. Membership (39 towns and 8 villages spanning 5 counties), by-laws, dues, and continued advocacy on behalf of its constituents (including the lead it took in negotiating the December 2010 Water Supply Permit which sets the terms and conditions for the City’s ability to acquire land in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed).
i. Have done well with collecting dues.
ii. 7 towns that have not paid bills in some time .
iii. 7 towns have not paid for this year. They will probably be paid.

k. Now there is a “creep” by the city where they are taking back some of what they had given us. Need to keep an eye on this – it is very subtle. Kevin is a good barometer for this.
i. Jeff, Dan Russo, and Kevin were some of the principal writers of the MOA.

l. Following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee Delaware County formulated the position that Stream Remediation and Flood Hazard mitigation was at least as important as land acquisition to ensure water quality. Green, Ulster, Schoharie, and Sullivan counties affirmed this position.
i. EPA/DOH agreed with this.

m. The Final Revised 2007 FAD issued May 2014 reflected this thinking, and three new programs were mandated: 1) Local Flood Analyses (LFAs); 2) Flood Buy-Out (FBO) program; and 3) Relocation program. Towns cannot afford to lose tax base.

n. FBOs will result in a loss of tax base and a Relocation program seems in theory an ideal way to off-set this loss. However, City funding is insufficient to cover all the costs associated with Relocation, which includes housing development and infrastructure construction.

o. Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) [and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Ulster County], partnering previously with the City to develop Stream Management Programs (SMPs), were now asked to take responsibility for LFAs.
i. The New board should know that we need to help/represent SWCD.

ii. CWT has taken a first step in this direction by convening a meeting with SWCD designers in June of this year. City had been promising this meeting for 4-5 years. Found uneven approvals throughout counties/favoritism. A week later these findings were reported to Paul Rush and David Warne in a quarterly partnership meeting.

iii. The revised FAD now opens the door to advocacy not only on behalf of CWC but also SWCD.

p. CWC, in addition to the usual programs they administer, will also be working on the relocation projects. Details still being worked out.

q. All of these programs, new and old, have to eventually meld.

4. Minutes – June 15, 2015 minutes approval – moved by Dolph, second by Van Glad. Unanimously approved.

5. Warrant(s) and Treasurer’s report:
#24: Young Sommer – $2,404.50
#25: Young Sommer – $4,139.23
Total – $6,543.73
Motion Van Glad, Second Dolph. Passed unanimously.

Treasurers Report:
Checking – $994.10
Savings – $95,558.92

6. Election of Officers.
a. Results:
Delaware County
Regular Members                                            Votes
Bruce Dolph, Walton                                      13 *

Mark Tuthill, Delhi                                         10 *

Bill Layton, Tompkins                                    6 *

Diana Cope, Margaretville                              4

Art Merrill, Colchester                                     4

Marjorie Miller, Middletown                          2

Tom Joyce, Andes                                           0

Janet Champlin                                               0

Alternate Members
Dale Cole, Andes                                            10 *

Jacob Rosa, Middletown                               8 *

Art Merrill, Colchester                                   7 *

Alan Perkins, Delhi                                        6

Tom Joyce, Andes                                            3

 

Greene County
Regular Members
Mike McCrary, Jewett                                     5 *

Anthony Coiro, Hunter                                   4 *

Donald Murray, Windham                              2

Alternate Members
Karl Gonzalez, Windham                               5 *

Bonita Chase, Prattsville                                 1

[D]onald Murray, Windham                             1

Mike McCrary, Jewett                                    1

(There is tie between Chase & Murray that will have to be decided for the alternate position. Mike McCrary is already elected as a Regular Member)

 

Ulster County
Regular Members
Peter Friedel, Olive                                         5 *

Greg Vurckio, Denning                                  5 *

Alternate Members
No alternate members were nominated or written in for Ulster County

 

Schoharie County
Regular Member
Anthony Van Glad, Gilboa                1 *

Alternate Member
Maxwell Stryker, Gilboa                     1 *

 

Sullivan County
Regular Member
Ric Coombe, Neversink                      1 *

Alternate Member
Mickey Mullen, Neversink                  1 *

 

b. Bill Layton not interested in continuing his position, meaning a tie between Art Merrill and Diana Cope. There is a tie for alternate in Green County. Delaware County and Green County each have a caucus.
i. Delaware County decides to offer the spot to Art Merrill. Al Perkins is now the third alternate for Delaware County, as Art Merrill would have been an alternate.

ii. Green County decided to invite each to the next meeting and decide at that time.

7. Carl leads discussion re: election of officers. Recommends Dolph, the formers Vice-Chairman, for the Chairman position. Nomination moved by McCrary, seconded by Tuthill. No other nominations. Motion by Coombe, cast a unanimous vote. Passed unanimously. Van Glad moved to nominate Coiro as vice-chairman, Dolph seconds. He accepts the nomination. All in favor. Coombe make a motion to nominate Van Glad as Treasurer, Dolph seconds. Passed unanimously.

8. Dolph makes a statement:
a. Alan from CWC invited.

b. Take a step back to be a better advocate for CWC, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cooperative Extension, and our local businesses. He would like to send out a letter to all of the towns and villages that are members of the CWT and find out more about the issues they are having and to collect documentation about those issues.

c. We know business owners have significant expenses if they want to expand. Very hard to start a new business or expand an existing business. They cannot afford to fight with the City. He believes that if the City wants to impose these regulations, they should pay for the expenses.

d. We should be an advocate for CWC. They are a great asset to businesses.

e. Very important for alternates to attend the meetings. Options and experience very valuable to the board.

 

9. Privilege of the Floor.
a. Marge Miller – Expresses thanks to Carl for his years of experience.
i. Carl expresses that after taking a four month break, if the board is still interested, he would consider assisting CWT again in an administrative/executive director capacity.

ii. Whether it’s him or not, Carl explains the staff position would be a paid position. Watershed Affairs is already paid for the administrative support they provide to CWT, and, of course, Young /Sommer is paid for their legal work.

b. McCrary makes a motion to continue contract with Delaware County Watershed Affairs, second Coiro. Unanimously passed.

c. Van Glad and board expresses thanks to Carl.

10. Preparing for the 25th Anniversary of CWT.
a. Carl explains that 2016 is the 25th anniversary of CWT. CWC invited past members and political leaders to a dinner for MOA anniversary.

b. March 1991 was initiation.

c. Dolph says we will continue to work on this.

11. Updates:
a. Pursuant to SC 10f of the 2010 WSP the status of hamlet designations can be reassessed and re-voted on by towns and villages every five years and the first window is from 12/24/15 – 6/23/16.
i. Kevin – in 2010, Hamlet expansion areas were identified. Now we can only remove lands from Hamlet area, cannot add parcels.

ii. CWC will send each town all the information about where the Hamlet expansion areas are to assist towns in decision making.

iii. Cox notes CWC has some funding that is available for noticing public hearings, etc.

iv. Yost – not “all or nothing,” individual parcels can be removed.

v. Distinction made between Hamlet and “Watershed Hamlet”.

vi. Michelle Yost asks about subdividing the developable and undevelopable portions of a piece of property in the hamlet area in Jewett. Landowner wants to sell the undevelopable portion to City. McCrary states subdivision should happen with the planning board ahead of working with NYC. Then the Town Board can make the decision about if the undevelopable portion can be removed from the hamlet area. Alternately, the Town Board can decide if the whole parcel can be removed from the hamlet area.

b. Amendments to the Real Property Tax Law as referenced in paragraph 80 of the MOA and Paragraph 19 of the Water Supply Permit. Senator Bonacic introduced legislation in 2011 but it was never approved.
i. Under the original MOA, the City paid real property tax on Conservation Easements, but not on WAC easements. In 2010 as part of the WSP negotiations, we demanded they pay taxes on their portion of the WAC easements and they agreed going forward. To make that legal, we need an amendment to the State Real Property Tax Law. It is up to us to get it done, and it’s not done at this point. Since 2010, all WAC easements have had a PILOT agreement so the City can pay the property taxes on them. Same taxes as on CEs.

ii. We need to go back to Bonacic. We need to get some political support to get this done.

c. Water Supply Permit Change.
i. In the MOA, City could only purchase vacant property, unless it was part of a State or Federal Buyout Program. Now that they must give $15 million toward Flood Mitigation, they will be able to knock down houses, etc in the flood plains. WSP must be amended. We agree to that because we asked for this money. We’re disagreeing over: City wants to issue a CE to the state of NY so the property will never be developed. This is not what the program is intended to do. We want flexibility with the land. The City does not need to have this control over the parcels in the Hamlet areas. CWT finds the idea of CE on flood mitigation properties unacceptable. The language was in a document a while ago that said the municipalities were amenable with giving a CE, and no one noticed it at that time. NYC says we should have said something then. Kevin notes CEs are forever. Very limited conditions under which they can be amended.

ii. Yost asks about the WSP language-change comments sent by NRDC and Riverkeeper, and Watershed Affairs to NYS DEC’s Martha Bellinger. NRDC and Riverkeeper want individual landowners to be able to sell their land to the City. We want local, town level decision making to ensure best choices for the community. Comments do not seem insurmountable.

iii. DEC has not issued changes based on the comments.

iv. Carl cited the Delhi Riverwalk project. Many concerns about the responsibility for long term maintenance.

12. Kevin Young’s “Plan of Action/Relocation Tool Kit” – we will discuss at next meeting.

13. Marge Miller (Town of Middletown Supervisor) ‑‑ Formation of a land trust to acquire developable parcels.
a. Is there a way to fund a land trust that can compete with the City to buy developable parcels?

b. Wants support and collective power of CWT.

c. Also need to save expansion areas for village.

d. Jake asks if we can swap developable land for undevelopable land.

e. If this is a collective issue, Marge would like the CWT to ask the City to fund this.

f. Should not necessarily be tied to flood control. More related to towns and villages being able to survive.

g. Alan Rosa suggests condemnation of property. Possible if it is for the good of the community.

h. Kevin asks if we can team with CWC to find funding to find parcels that make sense to buy?

i. Alan says we should start FAD negotiations. City does not have to disperse money until negotiations are complete and they historically have stalled the process.

14. Below Dam Activities.
a. Cannonsville – Carl gave update about turbid water from test holes. Hydroelectric plant may be unfeasible. Coiro suggests NYC may need to strengthen dams.
b. Delaware – UDRTC is planning Water 101. Trying to form partnerships below the dam.
c. Esopus – no update.
d. Schoharie – no updates.

15. Correspondence – none

16. Other:
a. McCrary – election issues. Should stagger elections.
i. Coiro stated that this is a confusing process for the towns.

ii. Dolph stated is was very poorly done, embarrassing this year.

iii. Currently, procedures vary from town to town.

iv. Decided to form a sub committee to review the bylaws and potentially change the bylaws or make sure we are following the procedure they describe.

v. The only way to alter the bylaws is unanimous approval of all member towns.

vi. McCrary, Coiro, and Tuthill are on the committee.

vii. Young Sommer will send an explanation of process to amend bylaws to Molly, she will send to all.

17. Adjourn 8:47

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