Orange County News Roundup Dec. 23

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
December 23, 2015 Updated: December 23, 2015

PSC to Upgrade High-Voltage Lines

 The state Public Service Commission voted Dec. 17 to proceed with plans to upgrade 156 miles of high-voltage power lines that make up the backbone of the state’s electrical transmission system from west to east and north to south. An upgraded line will run 11 miles in Orange County. Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman said the upgrades, to begin in a year, will reduce grid congestion and result in lower electricity costs for the average customer. Critics questioned the need for the upgrades as well as the environmental and scenic impacts of the project. Business and labor groups praised the commission’s decision. Zibelman said the process leading up to the vote was the most extensive the PSC has ever conducted, with 120 parties, 4,500 comments and documents submitted and 30 staff members assigned. The commission limited the new transmission lines to replacement and upgrading of existing lines within existing rights of way, and adding new substations at several locations. It said the proposed project will provide $1.20 in benefits for every dollar it costs.

From The Associated Press

Groups Sue to Rescind KJ Water Permit

Four Cornwall non-profits have filed a lawsuit with the state supreme court to invalidate Kiryas Joel’s water permit, reported the Photo-News on Dec. 10. The Article 78 lawsuit contests the Department of Environmental Conservation’s permit allowing KJ to draw 612,000 gallons a day from a Mountainville well it owns. The lawsuit by plaintiffs Black Rock Forest Consortium, Open Space Institute, Inc., Storm King Art Center, and the Orange County Land Trust contends the village will use the well as its primary municipal water source, rather than a backup to its two existing wells and the proposed tap into the New York City Aqueduct.

Another lawsuit on the same issue was filed by the Village of Woodbury, the Town of Woodbury, the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, the Town of Cornwall, the Black Rock Fish and Game Club of Cornwall, Inc., Henry N. Christensen Jr., Susan Webber Christensen, and Sevinch Bridges.

Feds Renew Funding for Highland Falls School District

The Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District will continue to receive $3.5 million in federal funding it says is needed to continue operations, reported the MidHudsonNews. The state and federally-owned West Point properties are off the tax roles, over 90 percent of the district. The 2016 federal budget initially had no funding budgeted for the district but New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer, and Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sean Patrick Maloney worked to have the funding restored. The money is included in the federal omnibus spending bill. 

Tuxedo Police Chief to Retire

 After more than 20 years in law enforcement with the Tuxedo police department, Chief Patrick W. Welsh is retiring, reported the Photo News on Dec. 16. Injuries in the line of duty factored into the decision. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the Town of Tuxedo,” Welsh said. Welsh joined the department as a part-time dispatcher in February 1994, became a town officer in 1997, was promoted to sergeant in 2001, and to chief in 2009.

FedEx Proposes New Facility on Trucking Corridor

Federal Express appeared before the Montgomery Planning Board on Dec. 13 to propose a 248,000 square foot facility on Neelytown Road, known as Montgomery’s trucking corridor, reported the Wallkill Valley News. The 5.6-acre facility will be equipped with 63 loading docks. The center would be a 24/7 operation, taking in tractor-trailers from New Jersey. The proposed distribution hub will be the third within an eight-mile area, including one in Newburgh. About 119 jobs are anticipated—93 as package handlers and 26 administrative positions. Planning Board member John Lynch said delivery vans at the Newburgh site leave at the same time to catch planes, which causes backups at the intersection of Route 17K and Governor Drive. The new facility on Neelytown Road would be for ground transit.

Wind Turbine Proposed for Future Goat Farm

 A 100-foot wind turbine, which exceeds the permitted height of 35 feet, has been proposed for a future dairy farm and residence on East Searsville Road in Montgomery, reported the Wallkill Valley News on Dec. 16. The town Zoning Board of Appeals received the turbine application that states the model can withstand 120-mile winds, have a noise buffer, and be quieter than ambient noise. Town residents have expressed concerns about setbacks, noise, aesthetics, birds hitting the blades, the number allowed, and how the town will handle future requests. The operation will be a backup for running a well and refrigeration for a dairy goat farm for cheese products.