...On July 30, 2003 Petitions for the establishment of a special water district and stormwater drainage district within the Whitetail Meadows development had been received in the Town Clerk’s Office and Highway Superintendent Cleveland has now received the relevant metes and bounds description for these special districts.According to the August 20, 2003 Approved Town Board minutes:
...WHEREAS, the improvements proposed consist of the installation of storm sewers, detention facilities, catch basins, appurtenances, and a connection point(s) for discharge to the existing New Hartford storm water transportation system within the Town of New Hartford to which the new storm water facilities shall be connected and which transport storm water to the Sauquoit Creek; andSubsequent to that Town Board Meeting, as required by Town Law, on September 3, 2003, the town board held a Public Hearing to give residents an opportunity to speak for or against and a negative declaration [SEQRA] was presented to the town board by the Town Clerk. No one from the public spoke during the hearing; however, Councilman Backman had some questions for then Highway Superintendent Cleveland:
WHEREAS, the facilities proposed to be constructed in the said proposed Storm Water Drainage District as shown on the said July 28, 2003 Plat Map, sheets "1" and "2", as revised accompanying the Petition are to be constructed at the sole expense of the Petitioner; [emphasis added by blogger]
[from the Sept. 3, 2003 approved town board minutes] Addressing his remarks to the Highway Superintendent, Councilman Backman asked about work or deficiencies of the development. Highway Superintendent Cleveland replied there is a bond and some work that the developer needs to do and that will probably be done within a month. Councilman Backman would like the deficiencies taken care of before the district is created, not after. Attorney Rossi stated that the Town Board can require the developer’s attorney to provide written confirmation that the deficiencies have been taken care of or provide sufficient security for the Town to perform the work. Attorney Rossi had talked with Attorney Maya, noting that the Town can withhold accepting the roads as town highways until Attorney Rossi "…is sure that Roger (Highway Superintendent) is sure that everything’s been done according to the approved plans (and Town Code)."At the conclusion of the Public Hearing, a resolution was proposed; the resolution outlined each step that had been taken in keeping with Town Law regarding the creation of a District by petition of the owners of at least 50% of the proposed area of the district. The resolution also once again reiterated the wording of the August 20, 2003 Order [Order No. 2 of 2003] that "the proposed improvement and all of the expenses thereof shall be paid for in full by the Petitioner". The vote of the town board was unanimous; the resolution was adopted; and the Whitetail Stormwater Drainage District was created.
What makes this so interesting is that the developer of Whitetail [the same developer that submitted the above petition to the town board] has been billing the town over $60,000 to include purchase of a lot in 2006; work done by his own construction company to create a detention basin within his development in 2007; plus interest because the invoice has not been paid.
According to discussions at town board meetings, the money to pay the developer is supposed to be taken from the remnants of the $2 million stormwater bond. When we questioned the town liaison to the Stormwater Group she stated that the Stormwater Water Districts were not created legally. Really? We suggested at the last Stormwater Group meeting that she check on that because town board minutes seem to tell a different story.
For those unfamiliar with the Whitetail subdivision, it is located on a hill off Oneida Street across from the intersection of Elm & Oneida Streets.
Funny, the proposal brought before the town board in 2003 when the petitions were submitted to the Town Clerk to create the district seemed to say that the developer would bear the costs of the stormwater basins, etc.
Funny, too, that no one has bothered to mention the creation and terms of the Stormwater District that was created in 2003 when the discussion to pay over $60,000 comes up at town board meetings.
Odd that the town's liaison to the Stormwater Committee would be told that the Stormwater Drainage Districts were not legally created.
The explanation at several town board meetings and Stormwater Committee meetings has been that these invoices are part of a "handshake deal" between the developer and the former Highway Superintendent.
At one town board meeting on September 28, 2011, Town Attorney Herb Cully addressed the town board and stated that former Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland and former Town Planner Kurt Schwenzfeier provided a signed affidavit to the developer's attorney regarding this "handshake deal".
The town attorney advised the town that they should probably discuss this topic in Executive Session since it comes under "acquisition of property". Here is the video of that portion of the meeting:
Further making this payment seem questionable is that the NYS Comptroller in a document titled "Information for Town Officials" on page 55:
Town Law 117This "wink and nod" agreement between the developer and former Highway Superintendent was never brought before the town board until well after the expense had been incurred; the work was was done by the construction company owned by the developer without bidding; the former Highway Superintendent had no authority to enter into a contract without town board approval; the expense was never budgeted; and no transfer of monies has been publicly approved by the town board to pay for these invoices prior to the expense being incurred. As far as we know, there is still no approval of the town board to pay these monies. It would seem to follow that this "agreement", according to Town Law 117, is null and void.
In general, unless provision has been made in the annual budget or a supplemental appropriation has been provided, no officer, board, department or commission may expend, or contract to expend, any money or incur any liability or enter into any contract which involves the expenditure of money for any purpose, except leases or contracts as may have been entered into by the town for a term exceeding one year. Town Law, Section 117, provides that any contract, either verbal or written, made in violation of this prohibition is null and void.
There are actually several Stormwater Districts within the Town of New Hartford as outlined in an email sent to former Highway Superintendent Cleveland from Town Clerk Gail Wolanin Young.
The previous town board used about $100,000 of the Stormwater Bond to create two (2) detention basins in Jubilee to alleviate problems downstream from that development and from Longworth Acres; two more fairly new developments that have a Stormwater Drainage District [Jubilee District...Longworth District].
Minutes of the May 15, 2002 Town Board Meeting note:
Stormwater Drainage IssuesIs this "discussion" what prompted the developer to petition the town board for the creation of the Whitetail Stormwater Drainage District?
Stormwater drainage is becoming an increasingly important issue in Councilman Waszkiewicz’s district as well as Councilman Backman’s District and he alluded to the Whitetail Meadows subdivision being constructed on a hill off Oneida Street, Chadwicks. Who pays for the original stormwater management plan? Who pays for maintenance? The Town Board should think about whether we, as a Town, should shoulder that burden. The Town should consider this matter for future conversation and what might be recommended.
Opinions please...what are your thoughts on using taxpayer dollars to purchase land from a developer; using taxpayer dollars to build stormwater detention basins, etc. to control stormwater runoff from said development; and using taxpayer dollars to maintain these basins, etc.; particularly when the developer was the one who petitioned the town board to create the district in the first place?
What happens when the $2 million for stormwater is gone and we have another storm like the one on April 28, 2011?