By Jo E. Prout
ALTAMONT — The village board Tuesday conceded to the public’s reservations about sharing municipal water by reducing the amount Altamont will make available outside village lines. The board voted, 4 to 1, to adopt Phase II of its water policy to allow the village to produce more water, and provide it within and outside the village limits.
Development with village water could begin just outside Altamont on Bozenkill Road, as the Guilderland Planning Board two weeks ago gave property owner Troy Miller its first level of approval for a 10-lot clustered subdivision on 52 acres there.
The village board agreed Tuesday to increase water production from its Gun Club Road and Brandle Road wells to 25,000 gallons per day — an amount that could supply up to 60 additional homes.
Last month, the board calculated that the remaining land that could be built upon in the village would equal 40 lots. On Tuesday, the board noted that no village lots are currently “buildable” and ready to begin construction.
After trustees Dean Whalen, Christine Marshall, and William Aylward expressed discomfort with the amount of water that could be tapped by developers outside Altamont, Mayor James Gaughan suggested that the board modify the policy to allocate two-thirds of the proposed water production to in-village growth. The remaining one-third, or about 8,000 gallons per day, could be directed to out-of-village growth, Gaughan said.
The board voted to adopt the modification to the policy by the same split, with Marshall voting opposed. Marshall also was the lone vote against the Phase II water policy. Trustees Whalen, Aylward, Kerry Dineen, and Gaughan voted to adopt the policy.
Marshall said that the board should further revise the policy to have guidelines in place for the next time water is requested, so that the board has criteria by which to judge the appropriateness of the water production, rather than “we like the developer.”
Before the vote, Aylward said he opposed serious expansion in all directions around Altamont.
“I want a policy to make sure that that is not approved,” he said.
He favored the amount of money the village could pocket for tap-in fees and water use — at double the rate for village residents. Engineer Richard Straut of Barton & Loguidice and Superintendent of Public Works Timothy McIntyre estimated that nearly half-a-million dollars could be raised with tap-in fees, and that water rates for the maximum of 60 homes could provide over $40,000 per year.
Resident Jeff Perlee, and others, said that extending village water lines would reduce the amount of environmental disturbance caused by property owners in the town who could use heavy equipment to search for water and place septic tanks on the same property on Bozenkill Road.
“I think I’m going to vote in favor of it,” Aylward said, “for the protection of the water supply and the value of the money to the village.”
Dineen worked on the policy proposal with McIntyre and Straut.
“I’m not in favor of sprawl,” she said. Dineen said that the policy came about because of a proposal in the town.
“It’s a win-win for people who may build there, and it’s a win for us,” she said. Dineen said that she knows and trusts Straut and McIntyre, both of whom had told the board last month that 25,000 gallons per day were just a beginning and that future production could increase, if necessary.
“It’s really about controlling revenue,” Straut told the village board Tuesday. “We have a lot of old pipes — you have a lot of old pipes. I think of it as mine,” he said. Straut, a Voorheesville resident, said that he meant that, as Barton & Loguidice is Altamont’s village engineer, he thinks proprietarily of the pipes.
“The newest pipes are 17 years old,” he said. “There will continue to be maintenance expenses.”
Some residents spoke against the water proposal, noting the current rural feel of the open fields, and quoting the village’s mission statement about Altamont’s unique features and the threat to its character by development along the Bozenkill Creek.
Gaughan said that some of the concerns had “an edge” to them of an Altamont that he does not know.
“We’re not exclusionary. We’re welcoming. We’re not segregated,” Gaughan said. The size of the development, on property zoned for single-family homes on five-acre lots, could have been larger than the 10 clustered lots proposed, he said.
“It could be much more,” Gaughan said.
Village Clerk Patricia Blackwood told The Enterprise that Miller has not made a formal request to the village for services on the Bozenkill Road property.
“Everything with his property is going through the town right now,” Blackwood said.
Miller’s application for the subdivision reappeared before the Guilderland Planning Board in November.
“The concept was approved,” Town Planner Jan Weston told The Enterprise. The project must still receive preliminary and final approvals, also, she said.
Weston said that the 52-acre property on Bozenkill Road has wetland issues that have not yet been mapped.
“He might lose some lots,” she said of Miller.
In other business, the village board:
— Adopted amendments to portions of the village code.
Whalen told the board that the majority of changes were updated wording or corrections of typos. However, the board added a description for “landscape business” that can include indoor storage but no stockpiling of materials or agricultural activity. The board also further defined recreational vehicles to include motorized vehicles. A major portion of the code changes involve non-conforming structures or uses;
— Approved a special-use permit for Thomas Breitenbach of 809 Township Road to use the residence for private events;
— Approved the election by the membership of the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department of officers Robert White, as chief; William Hoogkamp, as first assistant chief; and Mark Huggins, as second assistant chief. The board applauded the men and their election. The board also approved Christopher Rambo Jr.’s application to become a junior firefighter;
— Resolved to hold the next village election on March 19, 2013 from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall;
— Changed the January board meeting to Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013;
— Agreed to hire Shirley Morey, of Berne, as a part-time seasonal senior van driver at $12 per hour; and
— Agreed to accept sealed bids for the village’s 1999 Ford F-550 dump truck, with a minimum bid of $5,500.