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Palatine Justice Court issue making slow progress

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - Updated: 8:47 AM


C-S-E News Staff

PALATINE BRIDGE — Progress is being made, but it’s slow.

That was the assessment of town of Palatine resident John McGlone, who updated Palatine Town Council members about the status of the potential Palatine Town Justice Court relocation.

McGlone, whose research into alternatives to the construction of a new town hall got the attention of town officials late last month, noted that all parties agree that the town’s records storage facility is inadequate and that a new justice court is needed.

He currently has active conversations going on with three state agencies — the state Office of Court Administration (OCA), the state Department of State Local Efficiencies Group, and the governor’s Regional Economic Development representative — about the potential sharing of court facilities with the village of Canajoharie, McGlone said.

Of those agencies, he said the OCA has been a “choke point” in getting a ruling about the potential sharing question.

He has also met with Canajoharie village officials, surveyed their municipal building, compiled a village meeting room schedule in order to identify scheduling conflicts, met with Palatine Justice Ronald Dygert, and looked over Nelliston village properties, which Mayor Donald Yerdon has offered for potential use.

Unfortunately, the Nelliston Village Hall is too small to accommodate the court needs, and the former Nelliston school needs to be rehabilitated, he said.

Regardless of any final determination about the shared use of Canajoharie village court facilities, McGlone said the village has offered their second floor facility for trials, when needed. Based on his conversations with state officials, there’s no jurisdictional issue with that temporary arrangement.

Within the next 30 days, McGlone said that he would update village of Canajoharie officials, “prepare side-by-side comparisons on the three alternative court sites, ... come closer with [the Office of Court Administration] on the multi-jurisdictional issue, engage with [Local Efficiencies Group] and OCA on longer-term issues of consolidation, and bring forward a recommendation to local officials at the next opportunity.”

Other business during the meeting included the following:

• It was noted the Big Lots store in the Dutchtown Plaza is expected to open the last week in October. The grand opening is slated for the first week in November.

• Town Highway Superintendent Art Logan outlined savings that the town has realized because of the sharing of services with area municipalities this summer, lower-than-expected paving costs, and the like. Connected with that, he noted the town’s 23-year-old plow truck is in need of replacement and suggested that money is available in the budget for the purchase.

The estimated cost for a new 10-wheeler with plow equipment and an all-purpose body would be in the neighborhood of $220,000 to $230,000, Logan said.

He noted that the state has instituted a new way of doing state bids, which makes it possible for a municipality to buy equipment on other municipalities’ bids. “There’s no such thing as a state bid truck anymore,” he claimed.

Supervisor Brian Sweet said Logan’s request will be taken up during upcoming budget workshops.

• Dog control officer Cheryl Sebastian said the town needs to find a place to hold vicious dogs for the mandated five-day hold. Attorney Robert Subik noted that the town of Root contracts with the Fort Plain Animal Hospital for the service on a per diem basis. “You use it, you pay,” he said.

Sebastian said the town used to do that when Fultonville vet Dr. Van Wagonen was alive.

• Town Code Enforcement Officer Cliff Dorrough said that he will be participating in an eight-week course at SUNY Cobleskill, so his hours of availability will temporarily change. He will be available to address town codes issues after class ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, or during the day on Thursday and Friday or Thursday and Saturday.

• Palatine resident Paul Spencer during public comment praised town officials for the fiscal restraint that he’s observed with regard to equipment purchases and shared services.

While he complimented Logan on his willingness to “slow down the expediency of replacing equipment,” he also said he didn’t think it prudent to use money set aside for road paving for the purchase of a new vehicle.

Additionally, an unidentified woman present said she thought that the question about the purchase or construction of a new town hall should be voted on by town residents.

• Sweet said he talked with David Slottji, an attorney with the Community Environmental Defense Council Inc. of Ithaca who prepared the town’s hydrofracking moratorium, about an amendment to the town’s zoning law to reflect natural gas zoning and a potential road-use law. With council approval, he said the town would be sending its zoning regulations and comprehensive plan to Slottji for line-by-line review.

When Slottji’s draft amendment has been prepared, it will be submitted to Subik for review.


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