Town Board Considers Route 22 Rezoning
by Tom Walogorsky The Town Board met on July 12 for a regular session at Town Hall. This meeting also served as a public hearing for further discussion on the proposed rezoning of seven parcels of land on Route 22. The proposed rezoning concerns roughly 14 acres on the west side of Route 22, just south of the intersection with Route 55. This land is currently residential and would be rezoned to a highway business designation. The Board selected these parcels based upon their frontage to the highway. In addition, Board members have determined that developing these properties for commercial use would not adversely impact environmentally sensitive areas nearby. Town officials believe the rezoning could help bolster the local economy, as currently only 3% of property in Pawling is zoned for commercial use. The Board heard from Liz Axelson, a planner from Morris Associates Engineering and Surveying Consultants, PLLC, of Poughkeepsie and Hudson, NY. Ms. Axelson, explained that Morris Associates, in conjunction with the Planning Board, Implementation Committee, Town Board, and Dutchess County Planning Board, notified all residential landowners in the affected parcels, as well as residents of adjoining properties, of the rezoning proposal. The public hearing gave the Board an opportunity to hear from some of these landowners. Chief among the concerns of those in attendance was the effect that the rezoning would have on property values and taxes. Landowners also expressed concerns about which kinds of businesses are being considered for the proposed commercial property. Since the parcels would be rezoned as highway businesses, this would place the parcels in a higher tax bracket, but the land value itself would also be greater. The Board has not yet voted on this proposal, and residents are welcome to attend the next Town Board meeting on August 9 to address any concerns. In addition to the public hearing, the Board heard from Ed Hauser of the Pawling Community Foundation. Mr. Hauser was seeking approval to submit an application to the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation. If approved, this grant could yield up to $500,000 for a variety of parks projects, recreation trail programs, and maintenance for both. The Board approved a resolution to this effect unanimously. Finally, the Board addressed the issue of possibly outsourcing the town’s payroll services. Currently, town employees in the highway department, buildings and grounds, and recreation departments are using an older system of time clocks and punch cards. The Board has been exploring options to update this system through Paychex, a payroll service operating out of Fishkill, NY. If implemented, Paychex would provide Internet connected biometric time clocks for all town facilities at a cost of $8,100. The Paychex system promises increased efficiency, better accuracy in logging employee hours, and more convenient reviewing procedures for supervisors. The Board is still considering these changes, and will decide on implementing them at a later date.