Westerlo updates zoning, appoints grant writer

WESTERLO — At its Dec. 5 meeting, the town board hired Westerlo’s first-ever grant writer, at a salary of $10,000, and made changes to its zoning code.

Before its last meeting of the year, the Town Board held a public hearing to change the town zoning code to designate the zoning administrator to review site-plan and special use permit applications, rather than the planning board chairperson.

The changes to the zoning code also include removing a paragraph that gave the planning board chairperson discretion to “waive any of the information or requirements hereinafter set forth for a completed application where the circumstances in his or her judgment warrant such waiver,” so long as the chairperson had the approval of two other planning board members.

John Sefcik, a member of Westerlo’s zoning board, asked the town board to consider changing the section of the zoning code referring to community solar applications.

The town laws regarding solar arrays, which had been added earlier this year, state that commercial arrays must have setbacks of at least 100 feet, the exception being community arrays, which are allowed to have setbacks of at least 50 feet. Sefcik said that, with a significant number of solar arrays being proposed in Westerlo and surrounding areas, it appeared community arrays may be larger than expected, and should have similar setbacks to commercial arrays. The board agreed to change the setbacks for community arrays from 50 to 100 feet.

Toward the end of the meeting, the board approved the appointment of Nicole Ambrosio as a grant administrator.

Ambrosio told a skeptical audience at the meeting that she is a former Berne-Knox-Westerlo teacher, having taught in the early 1990s, and continued working in education in the Bronx. She currently lives in Surprise, in Greene County, and has administered grants for the town of Greenville, also in Greene County.

When asked about grant writers receiving commission for grants, Ambrosio said that grant writers can do this, but she does not. Councilman William Bichteman said Ambrosio would receive a salary of $10,000.

The town also bade farewell to Bichteman at the Dec. 5 meeting. Bichteman, a Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully for re-election in November, will be leaving the town board at the end of the year. Councilman Joseph Boone, a Democrat, was re-elected, and Republican challenger Richard Filkins was elected, bringing the number of Republicans on the board to two.

The meeting included discussions of who would take on the several positions Bichteman has held as town councilman, including as a member of the town’s water board, and one of the town’s Freedom of Information Law officers.

Planning board member Edwin Stevens thanked Bill Bichteman for his knowledge and commitment, with applause coming from the gallery.

“I wanted to say the same thing, but Ed’s beat me to it,” said Supervisor Richard Rapp.

Boone spoke of the time he spent with Bichteman campaigning this year and also reiterated “what Ed said.”
 

 

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