Seneca Falls Town Board looks at comprehensive plan overhaul, honor longtime employee

The Town of Seneca Falls may begin updating its Comprehensive Plan as early as next year.

At last night’s Town Board meeting, this issue originated at the passing of two new Local Laws, which provided updates to the planning and zoning departments for green energy initiatives. Councilman Steve Churchill opposed both measures, stating that the Towns Comprehensive Plan needs updating before new codes or laws were established for zoning.

Churchill has made this request for the past several months, stating he was not sure if the new codes would align with the needs and wants of the community. The last Comprehensive Plan was conducted in 2006.

Councilman Sinicropi suggested that the Town Board keep this in mind and put funding into the 2023 Town budget. Supervisor Ferrara will be looking into the costs of the Comprehensive Plan process.


In other Board news:

Green Initiatives

Solar and Battery

The Board approved two resolutions, one for Solar Energy Systems and the other for Battery Storage Systems and their aligned resolutions for SEQRs. These resolutions are not site-specific or tied to any specific projects but instead initiate Local Laws that provide the zoning and planning tools needed to evaluate battery storage and solar energy projects.

Town Attorney Pat Morrell explained that if a project comes in, it is currently held to the same codes and regulations as other construction projects.

Ferrara commented early in the meeting that a lot of work has gone into the code adjustments, and it will help bring Seneca Falls into the 21st century. He also said that the new Local Laws provide regulations that will “serve as tools for the board to make educated decisions.” Projects will still need approval from zoning and planning boards and meet conditions specific to the site, but it will provide the Town more leverage.

Churchill was the only councilman to oppose the Local Laws and their SEQR resolutions, stating a new Comprehensive Plan needed to be in place before codes were made.

Water

Ferrara provided the Town an update on the ongoing replacing shut-off-valves on State Street. The goal is to isolate water main breaks by replacing the hundred-year-old valves. He noted that it doesn’t fix the aging pipes, but it will help, and that it has been a busy winter for water main breaks due to the temperature fluctuations.

The Board approved a measure to purchase a new leak detector for the Town for $4,050. It authorized Ferrara to solicit RFPs for engineering services for the Water Meter Replacement project. This project stemmed from the state’s $23 million initiative to improve water quality infrastructure in New York. Seneca Falls will receive $1,285,000 to replace existing water meters with advanced metering infrastructure technology, saving approximately 18 million gallons of water per year.

The Board also approved the resolution for the Townwide Sewer District, Bridgeport Sewer District, and West Seneca Falls Sewer District. Churchill opposed this resolution, stating he thought the Board was rushing into the decision.


Landfill

The Landfill committee met with Seneca Meadows for one meeting. The main topics of focus are odor control, independent reporting, reducing local traffic, and handling organic waste. Ferrara also stated that the Town is also interested in the anaerobic digesting of organic waste. There has not been another meeting date established as of yet.

Cayuga-Seneca Locations

The Cayuga nation has purchased 126 E Bayard Street from the Seneca Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma. The site is open as a gas station and convenience store and sells cannabis products. The location has been cited with a zoning variance because it is classified as an R1 location, and if cited a second time, it will then proceed to the Town Court. The 2133 Lake Road location has also received a violation for a zoning variance, for it is also an R1 location.

Town Manager

Applications for the Town Manager position are due on March 14. An interview and selection committee will be established, and there is hope that the committee can make a recommendation for a candidate to the Board in April or May.


Downtown Improvements

Applications for building renovations up to $50,000 are due to the Town next week as part of the DRI block grant.

The Board also approved Ferrara to solicit RFPs for the administration and engineering design of the DRI projects. Three projects of focus are the Visitor Center, the Community Center, and the 3.6 million dollars streetscaping for the northside of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal. There are hopes that the Huntington Building housing unit project will be shovel-ready in May. Ferrara stated that they have a five-year window, so the grant administration is necessary to move forward due to its complexity.

Reassessment Project

The Board voted to approve the procurement of a professional services agreement for the Reassessment Project. Churchill opposed the resolution, stating that it was not the right time to do an evaluation project with the current market being so high, the impact of inflation, and raising taxes on property owners.


Community Center

The Board approved the Community Center Gym Repairs, which will cost an estimated $57,860. The leaking roof will be repaired, windows, and other impacted parts of the center.

Retirement

Ferrara presented Beverly Warfel with a plaque recognizing her service to the Town as the Senior Account Clerk. Warfel’s retirement was celebrated as an intermission during the meeting.


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