Town of Blooming Grove Steps Up Pace to Establish PDR Program
“This is our sacred beauty,
our functionality, and our survival”
With the weather turning suitable for both farming and construction, Blooming Grove board members took a closer look at what would need to be done to enable a PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) program for the town, in time to implement it during the coming year, IF supportive legislation is finished by the time state lawmakers go into recess at the end of June and state legislation is passed then each municipality would be able to “opt in”. Pressure is growing with some new developments speeding up construction and others putting applications in, while many longtime residents want protection of the town’s rural character, environmental resources and views, especially with recent water problems highlighting the risk of potential serious damage to those resources.
A PDR program allows the town to tax certain real estate transactions and put that money into a savings fund that can be used to give landowners (especially owners of farmland) tax incentives in an agreement whereby the land, or a portion of it, is protected from development. These programs have been very successful elsewhere in Orange County, especially in Goshen and Warwick. The Town of Chester is in the midst of efforts to establish a PDR program there. As farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate, some residents feel that this needs to be dealt with as an urgent priority. But before it can be implemented there are numerous steps that need to be taken. Blooming Grove has worked very hard over the past 2 years to work its way through those steps, including participating in the Rural Heritage Program with Cornwall, to identify particularly important assets and resources (such as aquifers and ridge views). They have diligently listed some of these assets in a Natural Resources Inventory. There are many parcels that are considered important to protect, and now those parcels need to be listed as to priority and then assessed as to their monetary value as compared to their preservation value. A PDR program cannot be done until these steps have been completed, at which point (IF the state has established the new supportive legislation) our Assemblyman, Colin Schmitt, can offer the option for the town to “opt in”.
If the state does not move on their action before next month’s session closes, then the TOWN STILL HAS THE ALTERNATIVE OPTION TO CREATE and implement A PDR ON THEIR OWN. This is how Warwick became one of the first towns in the area to implement a PDR program, and it has been very successful for them. Supervisor Rob Jeroloman has met with Chester officials to see how they developed their proposed program, and learn some of the pitfalls they met along the way. “Assemblyman Schmitt”, he said, “cannot move forward without the detailed property list.” Then the Town Board would adopt the map, settle on the priorities, and make final choices. At a meeting with the Conservation Advisory Committee he said that a few of the members said they would rather not participate in some kind of PDR Committee that would facilitate finishing the draft plan, and therefore there will likely be a new committee which may include many if not most of the CAC members and a few other volunteers as well.
Goal dates have been set for completing prioritizing the properties, additional meetings will be held next week, with the hope to finish by the end of the state’s legislative session.
While PDR’s are an important means of protecting rural resources, the saving of rural character can be accomplished by other means as well. Most frequently groups like the Land Trust, Palisades Parkland oversight and other state grant resources can contribute to or pay in full for land purchases when property is particularly important to preserve.
The town can also further protect its visual resources by establishing protected Ridge Overlay Districts, Protected Views and Scenic Views along a roadway. Blooming Grove already has protections for some views, such as Schunnemunk Mt., which is considered one of its most valuable assets. Adding more of these kinds of protections is a fiscally conservative means of protection with less external oversight or involvement, though it still takes time. Contributions by preservation groups require willingness of a landowner to sell, and demand a specific plan as well as frequent and ongoing communication with the preservation groups. The analyses done during the Rural Heritage program, Natural Resources Inventory and review and analyses by the Conservation Advisory Committee will help in these efforts as well.
In other business (See individual Ward Reports In Next Week’s Issue)
Interviewing of Police Chief candidates has continued, and they have narrowed the choice to 4, plus a possible additional candidate being interviewed this week.
At a Special Meeting held at the end of last month, the board accepted the low bid to improve Town Hall HVAC systems at $351,697.00 The bid was submitted by S & O Construction Services
Release of $16,692.38 New York Rising Funds for Washingtonville Culvert Projects.
A Public Hearing will be held on May 21 at 7:30 pm to extend the moratorium on stationary battery storage systems.
With properties saturated from recent heavy and ongoing rains, property owners, especially those on Barnes Rd., and others as well, are reporting problems and damage from simply too much water.