June Town Hall Updates

Two public hearings are scheduled to take place at the next Town Board meeting, which falls on Juneteenth, a federal holiday. Earlier that day, there will be an unveiling of a marker commemorating the town's historic all-Black cemetery.

The first public hearing relates to a proposal to place restrictions on the installation of commercial solar energy systems. The full text of the proposal can be viewed on page 23 of this document:

The short version is that going forward, no commercial solar energy systems would be allowed to be built in residential, conservation or preservation districts of the town. Otherwise, with special permits, ground-mounted commercial solar systems could be installed above impervious surfaces or remediated contaminated sites.

There is likely to be considerable support for this resolution, especially in the wake of the clear cutting of 17 acres of a densely wooded area adjacent to Putnam Valley's middle and high school.

Before Tree Clearing/Photo: David Spittal
After Tree Clearing/Photo: David Spittal

Although the Town Board fought this project, the land belongs to Yorktown, which approved the clearing in order to install a solar farm.

The second public hearing relates to a proposal (see page 27 of the above document) to repeal the town's current law allowing it to offer incentives to private land developers. In a phone interview, Town Supervisor Jacqueline Annabi explained that the board is not opposed to offering incentives for commercial development, but wants the language to be more precise to ensure that whatever incentives are offered have off-setting benefits for the entire town, not just a specific development. She said the board's longer-term goal is to introduce zoning changes to encourage more commercial hamlets. She cited in particular the area near Tompkins Corners which she thought might benefit from more mixed use options, as well as the Wood Street area near the Bryant Pond exit on the Taconic State Parkway.

At 2 p.m. on June 19th, the town will unveil an historic marker at Town Hall that will then be placed at Larksburg Cemetery, also known as Lawson Cemetery, near Barger Street. The cemetery was the first all-Black burial ground in the area and contains the remains of Bishop Robert Lawson, his wife, and about 30 congregants. According to an entry in Wikipedia, Bishop Lawson founded the Barger Street Colony in 1927 on 121 acres, creating a place for a 20-room summer inn, a cattle barn, a grocery store, and a gas station. "By the early 1930s, busloads of people, mostly from Lawson's Harlem church, perhaps several hundred for a summer weekend, would make the trip from the city to Putnam Valley."

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