Amenia moves ahead on planning for wastewater district
Amenia Town Hall
John Coston

Amenia moves ahead on planning for wastewater district

AMENIA — Following several months of discussion, the Town Board at a regular meeting Thursday, March 7, voted 3-1 to proceed with engineering and legal services in connection with creation of a sewer district for the town.

Councilman Brad Rebillard cast the negative vote.

“I am happy that it passed,” Rebillard said, adding that he had voted his conscience, believing that the town has other major projects competing for attention.

Approval of the resolution means that the town can proceed with hiring the services of LaBerge Engineering and Consulting at an estimated cost of $27,500 to prepare a district map, plan and report, essential elements within the process for applying for federal infrastructure grant funding.

By the same resolution, the town agreed that legal services in connection with preparation of the map, plan and report will be through Tabner, Ryan and Keniry at an estimated cost of $18,000.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to appoint Councilwoman Rosanna Hamm to serve as deputy supervisor for the town.

Having considered several candidates to fill the vacancy on the town board created when Leo Blackman assumed the post of town supervisor following his election last November, the board moved ahead on appointing an interim councilperson to serve out his unexpired term on the board. The interim appointment will end following the November 2024, election.

A resolution put forward former Town Supervisor Bill Flood based on his experience in town government, but that appointment failed by a 2-2 vote, with Rebillard and Paul Winters voting in opposition.

A revision to the resolution substituted the name of Nicole Ahearn to fill the slot, winning approval by a vote of 3-1, with Blackman voting in opposition.

In an effort to measure public sentiment about the town opting in to state regulations that guide the operation of a cannabis dispensary in the town, the board devoted part of its meeting to hearing from residents.

No residents spoke in opposition to the idea of a dispensary. Several spoke in favor of allowing a dispensary, citing the benefits of medical marijuana to patients who need it and who now must travel substantial distances to procure it.

Another resident supported moving forward with opting in, trusting the strength of the state’s protective regulations.

Some residents said that if a local law is to be drafted, residents should have ample opportunity to study and discuss it in detail before voting on it.

Winters commented that he has argued in favor of legalizing marijuana for 30 years. Rebillard had concerns that the substance currently being distributed through the black market can be laced with fentanyl.

Town attorney Ian Lindars explained that current regulations allow two pathways allowing either a dispensary or an on-site consumption lounge, or both. He clarified that the town would be thinking only of a dispensary.

Siting of a dispensary is a key decision for the town, Lindars explained, suggesting that planning would also be a zoning issue. The town would eventually need to formulate a plan for regulating the dispensary and its operations.

As the advice of a town planner seemed to be the best first step, Blackman agreed to look into the availability of any existing Amenia town planner and report on his findings at the next meeting.

Recognizing that the town’s allocation of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding will not be used to purchase a property on Lake Amenia Road to be used for affordable housing, the town board voted unanimously to return the $200,000 in available ARPA funds to the town, but to earmark the funding to be used for affordable housing.

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