Seemingly breaking from a tradition of keeping public hearings open through several meetings unless there’s a reason not to, Village of New Paltz trustees voted to change the residency requirements to participate on the Affordable Housing Board on November 9, after the hearing was open for just two meetings. The change was part of a series of moves to extend volunteer eligibility to anyone living in the entire town.
There was considerable interest the week the hearing opened, due to the confusing way several laws interrelate. Trustees already added a general provision about eligibility that tied it to living anywhere in New Paltz, where the village core that’s known commonly as “town” is embedded in a larger town that carries the same name as the formal village: New Paltz. Volunteer bodies that were created this century tend to have a residency requirement a part of that law; in this case, trustees were removing the clause requiring members of the affordable housing board live within the village. Taken on its own, it appeared to some that where one lives would not matter at all; one piece of testimony given was about a rumor that even people from Kingston could be appointed.
Not every concern raised was addressed by explaining that the new rules would only allow New Paltz residents to serve on this board. There was testimony about the importance of having village residents serve as village volunteers, but the point of expanding the eligibility is because not enough village residents are stepping up. There was also testimony that for this board in particular it is important to have it fully populated by village residents. Even with the new rules, a majority of members of any volunteer board must live inside of the village line, but residents including Adele Ruger raised this specific point.
Ruger was in attendance, because due to a failure in communication Ruger and another resident were expecting to be interviewed for that very board on that very night; that agenda item had been removed. While asking about that item, Ruger expressed the view that if insufficient residents can be found to fill all the needed volunteer roles, then perhaps a village isn’t supportable at all.