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Legislature delays action on management council group ADVERTISEMENT

Legislature delays action on management council group

SCHUYLER COUNTY--Following a public hearing, the Schuyler County Legislature decided to table a resolution that would rescind the 1974 local law establishing the Environmental Management Council (EMC). This decision came during their regular meeting Monday, April 11, which was held in the Schuyler County courtroom to accommodate the nearly 30 people who attended. Many of those who spoke during the public hearing opposed the new measure, which would replace the existing EMC with a restructured subcommittee of the Schuyler County planning commission.
The Schuyler County EMC was established in 1974 to foster unified action on environmental problems among local governments and among public and private agencies and organizations. This group also has representatives from each town and village in the county, where the new proposed group would not. Members of the legislature previously cited concerns with the EMC now acting as an advocacy group rather than an advisory group, with Legislator Carl Blowers noting the EMC's current by-laws do not fit what the 1974 law allows.
The comments from the crowd members were largely against the proposed measure, with only one member of the public speaking in support. Speakers included both current and former members of the EMC, local officials and a gentleman with stage four lung cancer who stressed the importance of protecting the local environment. Current EMC Chair Kate Bartholomew was first to speak, stating she sees nothing wrong with the EMC as it currently operates. She cited concerns not only with the proposed six-year term limits (three terms of two years), but also with the need to protect against companies who want to come in and take advantage of the area's natural resources.
"We need to proactively plan for the future," Bartholomew said.
Montour Falls Mayor John King also spoke in support of the EMC, noting it helped the village when they ran into eagle problems when planning the new regional wastewater treatment facility with Watkins Glen. Ed Gates of Seneca Valley Farms highlighted his concerns with the new group being under direction of the planning department, noting the shortened terms will limit the experienced members from participating. He added it usually takes a member at least a year before they can effectively contribute.
"The EMC does not need to be controlled by planning," Gates said.
After the public comment, Legislator Michael Lausell motioned to table the resolution to take into account the public's comments. He also added it is unclear if the legislature had to rescind the local law that night. After some legislators said they thought the resolution needed to be acted upon in advance, County Attorney Steve Getman said while the local law would need to be rescinded before the new law is approved, the rescinding resolution can be acted on the same meeting as the establishing resolution. The legislature then voted six to two in favor of tabling the resolution, with Legislators Phil Barnes and Blowers being the only votes against.







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