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Lewiston tackles tax cap, green space

by jmaloni
Fri, Sep 30th 2011 06:25 pm

by Terry Duffy

Lewiston Town Board members addressed tax and property issues among others at its brief regular meeting Monday, Sept. 26, at Town Hall.

With budget time just around the corner, Supervisor Steve Reiter announced the town would hold a public hearing Monday, Oct. 24, at 5:30 p.m. to address the state's 2 percent property tap cap problem that Lewiston, like other municipalities, is now facing.

"We have had town increases. We have to figure out how to adjust to these," said Reiter.

Spending increases, notably a 70 percent increase in trash fees by Modern Disposal, were cited.

Reiter, responding to queries from town residents, clarified the issue of the town selling green space by announcing that only selected properties in the Lewistowne Park Estates housing subdivision, which border green space areas, would be considered.

Under earlier pacts reached in prior administrations, the town agreed to take control of the small green space lands found throughout the development and maintain the areas for recreational purposes. Many contain utility right-of-ways and are considered too small for any uses other than natural or recreational.

In turn, the town was compensated by subdivision developers at $250 per property bordering the green space in order to maintain them. Little had been done with the green spaces over the years. Some bordering property owners had installed pools, child play equipment or built small sheds. And the town, tired with addressing maintenance issues and responding to inquiries from residents on buying them, decided to try selling them.

Reiter, calling the problem "a logistical nightmare," commented at the session that it has cost the town "much more to maintain the parcels" than the $250 per property it was compensated.

But the matter remains far from settled. Town Attorney Mike Dowd reported he is still trying to figure out a host of logistical issues affecting the parcels and the interests of properties and the owners that surround them. He said issues involving how the properties were acquired - even going so far as examining individual deeds - needs to be considered. "Individual properties need to be considered if they are considered surplus properties," said Dowd. "There's questions with logistics; how the properties are divided."

Dowd indicated he was continuing to address the matter and no final decision on selling was reached on Monday.

In other news:

•The board reported Halloween trick or treat hours throughout the town would be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31.

•Town Councilman Mike Marra reported the town would start construction of a girls' softball diamond in Kiwanis Park over coming weeks. The town parks and highway departments, using town funds, would do the work.

•Reiter reported that Modern has expressed interest in introducing compressed natural gas as a fuel source for its vehicles and is seeking town permission to install new pumps. Dowd indicated that no site plan would be required and that Modern would need a building permit, monitored by town Building Inspector Tim Masters to allow it to proceed. National Fuel would provide oversight for the project, which would be at Modern's expense.

Councilman Ernie Palmer, who sponsored the motion with Councilman Al Bax, suggested that compressed natural gas could be a route for the town to follow. Board members concurred and unanimously passed the measure.

•The board took no action on an ongoing request by resident Marie Parkhill to rename The Circle as The Circle Drive. The woman has requested the name change due to the undesired courtesy title "Sir" found on several of her mailings. Dowd suggested the name change, which would affect up to 50 residents, could come as soon as next month's work session.

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