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Minutes of a Town Board Meeting held Wednesday, June 7, 2018

State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga

Minutes of a Town Board Work Session held on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at 10:00 AM in the Municipal Offices located at 1840 State Highway #10, Caroga Lake, New York, with the following persons present by roll call:

Supervisor Selmser - Here
Council Member Glenn - Absent
Council Member Manning - Here
Council Member Long - Here
Council Member Kirch - Here

Supervisor Selmser opened the meeting with the flag salute.

The meeting is called based on the information we got back on the property evaluation report and our initial intent is to follow our Local Law #1 from 1990 for property maintenance and dealing with unsafe structures. We have regulations that we need to follow for us to take further action. John Duesler did take a copy of the evaluation and give it to the owners of those properties to notify them of his initial step that the law states he has to follow. In addition to that if we need to take further action we need to have a public hearing and that is the main reason for this meeting to schedule that and get that announcement in the newspaper and to the public. Is there any further discussion? Do we want to talk or answer questions about anything?

Council Member Kirch stated that just so everyone is clear so the next step would be to have a public hearing. Supervisor Selmser answered “yes”. And what would be the next steps following that just for the high level? Council Member Long stated, assuming the public hearing goes as expected we would solicit bids for demolition or asbestos inspection, asbestos abatement, and demolition and cartage. Supervisor Selmser stated that gives the opportunity for any public comment or question, and the property owner also. It gives us the opportunity to discuss it. It doesn’t mean we have to take immediate action on it. But for us to take action we have to follow those steps. But those are the general steps. Council Member Kirch asked if we are allowing any public comment.

A member of the public asked if there were two properties. Council Member Long stated these are the properties that the Code Enforcement Officers have been going after for a decade. This is not a new deal. They are derelict small properties unsafe on tiny lots on 10, both on 10, and we finally are having the back bone to pursue this. We have reports done that verify what John has been suspecting for the last couple of years. Council Member Manning noted, Charlie Ackerbauer prepared the engineering reports and these are sufficiently unsafe. You don’t even want neighborhood kids wandering near these buildings. Supervisor Selmser stated they have been posted for over a year. I believe that they are unsafe and people should not be living in these properties. They are dangerous.

A member of the public asked where the properties are. Response, they are 2328 St Hwy 10 and 2116 St Hwy 10. Have they been abandoned by the owner? Response, no. They are actually being used unfortunately. They are disregarding the notices that we have posted. Council Member Manning stated, our Public Health officer has also been involved, and it states there that people should not be living in them. And John’s point too is that given the fact that they have been disregarding those if someone continues to live there and something happens the Town is liable if someone gets hurt. A member of the public stated, to evict these people and get them out of there and remedy the situation is going to be costly to the Town and the people. Is there going to be a remedy to recoup funds lost? Council Member Manning responded, yes. Supervisor Selmser replied that is questionable. It may be difficult to collect because one property is up for auction for non-paying of taxes. So it is a vicious circle. Council Member Manning said those fees get put on their tax bills, right? Yes a lien on the property. So if it gets auctioned you could get the value of it. There is a process in place.

Supervisor Selmser stated they are unsafe and an eyesore and blight. The intent of the town board is to deal with blight and unfortunately these are critical issues and if we don’t take action then our laws are worthless and our intent is a waste of time talking about it. Council Member Kirch remarked that John has bent over backwards especially for one of them to help them get things resolved.

It was asked if the properties could be fixed. Council Member Manning stated these are so far gone only remediation is removal. Mike Heberer started the process back in 2009

Council Member Long stated that we felt that by taking action this may help us with other properties. “Yes we are incurring a cost but by incurring a cost here we may not incur costs with other properties because people know that we are serious. We will go after these properties. We will seek the remedies provided by Town Law #1 of 1990 and Town Law #2 of 2009.”

It was asked if those properties are derelict how long they can have before they get a notice once it has been inspected. Council Member Long stated things move pretty quickly. We are new to this process as a town. The town has been reluctant to pursue this so we used an abundance of caution under counsel of our new attorneys Gregory Dunn and Kirsten Dunn to give them notice over and over. We’ve given them more notices than we are legally required to but you can never give too many notices. And it’s really a pretty short time span under our law.

Once you establish that something has to be removed then it is a pretty quick process. The town law that has been in place for quite a while I think it is 30 days from the first notice. So they get a warning and have 30 days to fix it and if they don’t do it then… they were given written notice. They have a right to appear at that public hearing if we learn something that somehow changes the situation not going to happen I can’t say it’s not going to happen it’s a public hearing we don’t know.

They have a right to speak on their own behalf, if we don’t give them that right we’ve violated their Constitutional rights. So you have to give them the right to speak for themselves. Council Member Long stated the purpose of this meeting today was so we as a board have to schedule that public hearing with sufficient advance notice. And we will consider that motion at some point during this meeting. Council Member Kirch stated, after that public hearing assuming it goes as we expect, then there’ll be asbestos inspections and some other things that have to take place before the actual demolition.

It was asked what if access is denied. At that point under advice of counsel at that point the Code Enforcement Officer would ask for entry. If he is denied entry we have power we have some power. It was asked if this asbestos is it on the outside. Council Member Long replied, we don’t know. We assume there is a possibility based on the age of the property. Every property built after 78 or something like that we don’t worry about that. But these older properties we at least have to assume. It was asked if there any way these people can have their wages garnished. Council Member Long doesn’t think they have wages – they have very little.

The one property did actually submit a building permit to take corrective action and the Code Office felt that that action would be a waste of time based on the inspection and he refunded the money. Unfortunately by state law it is required so we have to follow those steps. We will go out to bid and accept bids to have that work done for both the asbestos and demolition. And once we get those bids then we will make a decision. Council Member Kirch noted that a lot of these questions are what the public hearing is about. The bottom line here all we are doing is agreeing to have the public hearing. Yes.

Member of the public stated the bottom line is something has to be done for the safety of the people that live there. It is a no brainer.

Council Member Long stated the questions you are asking are going to be asked again at the public hearing by multiple people I am sure. It will not be a short meeting. Those are all good questions. We will probably take some heat over this. We have to do this. We have not been aggressive. As a town we have not been aggressive on either blight or unsafe buildings for a long time.

Supervisor Selmser we need to make a motion to schedule a public hearing to deal with these issues on our next town board meeting.

RESOLUTION #2018-000 to Schedule a Public Hearing on June 20th 2018 at the monthly Town Board meeting was made by Council Member Long at a work session held on Thursday June 7, 2018 at 10:00 am at Town Hall.

WHEREAS, this meeting was called to discuss holding a public hearing on two properties in the Town of Caroga that the Code officer has identified as unsafe, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Caroga Town Board shall hold a Public Hearing at 7:05 pm on Wednesday June 20th, 2018 regarding two properties SBL #83.9-4-19 and 83.6-6-8 for the purpose of public input Both properties have been declared unsafe buildings and at that public hearing we will respond to public comment before taking further action.

Council Member Kirch seconded the motion.

Adopted by a vote of 4 Ayes: Selmser, Manning, Long, Kirch

Council Member Kirch said we heard from John Duesler that the person selected for the code office position did not work out so he would like to repost that position. I think it would be wise for us to not only put it in the Leader Herald but did we put it in the Fulton County Express the last time? The clerk didn’t think so. Council member Kirch thought we should do both.

RESOLUTION #2018-000 to advertise in two newspapers for the Assistant Code position was offered by Council Member Kirch at a work session held on Thursday June 7, 2018 at 10:00 am at Town Hall.

WHEREAS, the town has not been successful in filling the code assistant position, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the position shall be advertised in both the Leader Herald and the Fulton County Express for 5 days and will be accepted until June 22nd and opened/reviewed by the Code Officer on June 25th to continue the process to try and get that position filled.

Council Member Long seconded the motion.

Adopted by a vote of 4 Ayes: Selmser, Manning, Long, Kirch

He cannot work more hours. It is a part time position. We need a second person during the summer months. We had 5 applicants – they were not entirely new to us. We’d been in contact with some of them a year ago. But two backed out before the meeting and two were no-shows. One did show up a person who John Duesler had worked with previously but had let the certification lapse and had agreed to retest and failed the retest and decided to withdraw and so we were left without anyone.

We have to find somebody somehow. We are desperate. We didn’t budget and don’t have the financial wherewithal to have somebody work a 40 hour week. We feel we have a need and came up with additional resources based on prior action by the town. John is reaching out to the fire departments.

Council Member Kirch stated that the last item I don’t know that we need to pass those resolutions today, but back in January February we talked about holding town hall meetings simply to have open discussion with the public about anything that’s on their mind. And I feel like there’s a strong need to do that and I would like to see us do that maybe in July because I’m hearing rumors around town that are absolutely incorrect and it would be an opportunity to clear things up and let people ask questions and get people the information. Council Member Long stated I don’t think we need a resolution we can just schedule a meeting when we’ve all looked at our calendars. If all board members were in attendance it would have to be announced. We don’t have to schedule it today though. No I just want to raise the issue. We can do it at our monthly meeting. The week after the regular board meeting in July was suggested, unless you wanted to do it the regular meeting but do it an hour earlier. Council Member Kirch responded, “No I don’t want to commingle those. Let’s keep the meeting shorter.” It will be brought up again at the June meeting.

At 10.22 am Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn. Council Member Kirch seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Gilbert, RMC, CMC

Town Clerk

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