Seneca Falls City Council Considers Complete Plan Overhaul, Honors Longtime Employee
The Town of Seneca Falls could begin updating its comprehensive plan as early as next year.
At last night’s City Council meeting, this issue arose from the passage of two new local laws, which provided updates to the planning and zoning departments for green energy initiatives. Councilman Steve Churchill opposed both measures, saying the city’s comprehensive plan needs to be updated before new codes or laws are established for zoning.
Churchill made the request in recent months, saying he was unsure whether the new codes would align with the needs and wants of the community. The last comprehensive plan was completed in 2006.
Councilman Sinicropi suggested that the city council keep this in mind and inject funds into the 2023 city budget. Supervisor Ferrara will review the costs of the comprehensive plan process.
In other Council news:
Solar and Battery
The Board approved two resolutions, one for solar power systems and one for battery storage systems and their aligned resolutions for SEQR. These resolutions are not site-specific or tied to specific projects, but rather initiate local laws that provide the zoning and planning tools needed to evaluate battery storage and solar energy projects.
City Attorney Pat Morrell explained that if a project comes through, it is currently subject to the same codes and regulations as other construction projects.
Ferrara said at the start of the meeting that a lot of work had gone into making code adjustments and that would help bring Seneca Falls into the 21st century. He also said the new local laws provide regulations that “will serve as tools for council to make informed decisions.” Projects will still need to be approved by zoning and planning boards and meet site-specific conditions, but this will provide the City with more clout.
Churchill was the only councilor to oppose the local laws and their SEQR resolutions, stating that a new comprehensive plan had to be in place before the codes were created.
Ferrara provided the city with an update on the ongoing shutoff valve replacement on State Street. The goal is to isolate water main breaks by replacing century-old valves. He noted that it doesn’t fix aging pipes, but it will help, and that the winter has been loaded with broken water pipes due to temperature fluctuations.
Council approved a measure for the purchase of a new leak detector for the City at a cost of $4,050. He authorized Ferrara to solicit tenders for engineering services for the water meter replacement project. This project is part of the state’s $23 million initiative to improve water quality infrastructure in New York City. Seneca Falls will receive $1,285,000 to replace existing water meters with advanced metering infrastructure technology, which will save approximately 18 million gallons of water annually.
Council also approved the resolution for Townwide Sewer District, Bridgeport Sewer District and West Seneca Falls Sewer District. Churchill opposed this resolution, stating that he thought the council was rushing into the decision.
The discharge committee met with Seneca Meadows for a meeting. The main topics of interest are odor control, independent reporting, local traffic reduction and organic waste management. Ferrara also said the City is also interested in anaerobic digestion of organic waste. No other meeting date has yet been set.
The Cayuga Nation purchased 126 E Bayard Street from the Seneca Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma. The site is open as a gas station and convenience store and sells cannabis products. The location was cited with a zoning discrepancy because it is classified as an R1 location, and if cited a second time, it will then go to municipal court. The 2133 Lake Road location also received a violation for a zoning override, as it is also an R1 location.
Nominations for the CEO position are due March 14. An interview and selection committee will be set up and it is hoped that the committee will be able to recommend a candidate to the board of directors in April or May.
Applications for building renovations up to $50,000 are due to be submitted to the City next week as part of the DRI block grant.
The Board also authorized Ferrara to solicit tenders for the administration and engineering design of DRI projects. Three targeted projects are the visitor center, the community center and the $3.6 million streetscape for the north side of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal. It is hoped that the Huntington Building housing unit project will be ready to start in May. Ferrara said they have a five-year window, so grant administration is needed moving forward due to its complexity.
The board voted in favor of obtaining a professional services agreement for the re-evaluation project. Churchill opposed the resolution, saying it was not the right time to do a valuation project with the current market being so high, the impact of inflation and rising taxes on homeowners land.
The council has approved repairs to the community center gymnasium, which will cost approximately $57,860. The leaking roof will be repaired, windows and other affected parts of the center.
Ferrara presented Beverly Warfel with a plaque acknowledging her service to the city as a senior account clerk. Warfel’s retirement was celebrated as an intermission during the meeting.
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