Hybrid meetings coming to Village Hall
Village of New Paltz trustees agreed at the April 28 Village Board meeting that they would explore a hybrid model for planning and village board meetings. The broad strokes discussed would have those elected officials who are willing and able to meet in the same room together, but to broadcast the meeting as happens now for the public to view and participate. Staffers were tasked with coming up with a specific plan for discussion.
Pocket park planned
New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers has found a way to move forward the idea of a “pocket park” on Main Street near the Chestnut Street intersection. The metered parking in that area is on leased land and Rogers has long wanted to reorganize the number of spaces, without reducing them, to make some open space. The landowner was hesitant about any permanent changes, but the new design involves elements that are relatively easy to move around, like multi-ton pieces of rock. A new lease agreement with the owner of the Wells Fargo Bank building would provide access to the grassy strip that was a driveway until a few years ago, expanding the park-like atmosphere to the west.
Several hearings scheduled
Village of New Paltz board members are required to hold public hearings before passing any law, but as Mayor Tim Rogers frequently notes, they take the expectation of gathering input from residents seriously. Rogers’ position is supported by the fact that hearings are rarely closed before there have been three opportunities to speak and some hearings are held open for longer still. Trustees scheduled several hearings to be first opened at the May 12 meeting. Among the potential laws being discussed are a new accessory apartment law to replace one that was removed from the code before Rogers was in office, updates to the zoning map that would rezone several properties and changes to the rules of business districts to make them more like the neighborhood-business-residential district along North Chestnut Street. That zone is characterized by buildings near the road with pedestrian-focused street-scapes and multi-story construction with apartments above retail and commercial uses.
Unlike what’s required for Planning Board applications, there is no law ensuring that anyone affected by changing a law be notified by mail. In the case of seeking to rezone several individual properties, however, Rogers suggested that notice be mailed to nearby property owners anyway, just to be sure they are informed.
Electricity rates decided
Village of New Paltz trustees have signed a new Community Choice Aggregation agreement, which sets the default electricity rates and source for village customers. Anyone may choose to sign a contract with another company instead. For those who do not, the new residential rate as of July 1 for renewable energy sourced entirely within the state will be 6.573 cents per kilowatt hour. By comparison, the current agreement has village residents paying 6.361 cents per kilowatt hour, and the market rate through Central Hudson was 6.739 cents per kilowatt hour on April 13. The rate through Central Hudson is variable and can change daily. Prior to the passage of enabling legislation in 2018, residents who preferred power from entirely renewable sources paid a premium for it.