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Residents speak up on Hillcrest Avenue fill

BOSTON — Several citizens of the town of Boston took advantage of a public hearing on during the board’s regular Aug. 6 meeting, when the board considered a request for a permit to dump materials on Hillcrest Avenue. The matter has been brought up multiple times in past meetings, and several speakers came forward to express their opinions on the matter. Russell Goldberg, the gentleman who had made the request, was the first to speak.

“At the time I had first arrived here, no municipal water was available in the town of Boston, at least on the part of Boston where I resided,” said Goldberg. “Fortunately, there was a town right-of-way that would permit me access both to the town roads and to utilities. With the recent lowering of the cost of gas, some two years ago, I came to the town board and said I wanted to install gas and water to my residence. In order to install gas and water to my residence, I needed to have a walkable path from the end of Chestnut Lane to the edge of my property. In order to establish that walkable path, I will need to install fill.”

Daniel Kurek, a neighbor of Goldberg’s, spoke up concerning the time frame of the project. “In the last year, some potential development’s been going on, up there,” Kurek said. “Mr. Goldberg came up with a contractor a little over eight weeks ago, and we all know what happened then: it was illegal, according to the town attorney [Michael Kobiolka], that he cut down the trees. He cut down bollards, took out the stop sign and started bringing in fill. My understanding was the [Department of Environmental Conservation] and the board and the code enforcement and everybody else came up there and put a stop to it. It’s a mess right now. It’s been over eight weeks.

“There are spots next to my trees that the fill was put in that are conservatively five to six feet above the base of the tree, which, if anybody knows anything about trees, which I don’t know that much about them, you’re going to kill a tree if you put that much fill around the base of a tree. Mr. Goldberg did rectify that situation as fast as he possibly could, had a contractor come up and clean out around it. But the problem is, the rest of the fill is there, the bollards are missing, the stop sign is out of code, if you want to call it that – it’s about 10-feet high.

“I don’t have a problem with Mr. Goldberg getting his fill or his water or his gas,” he continued. “What my problem is that I’m not a very patient person. It’s been, again, over eight and a half weeks since this fill was brought in. I insist that the end of the road, the fill be removed, to get it off two adjoining properties and I want it removed immediately, if not sooner. I know how politics and government work; it’s going to take a while. But I think eight and a half weeks has been enough time of messing around with this fill.

“Before water and gas are to be dug and put in, because the gas is coming from my property, and the water ends at] my other property, I want to know from a contractor, I want it spray-painted and flagged exactly where this water and this gas is going to be dug, so we can do minimal damage to the trees and what’s left of the end of the road.”

Kurek later added, if the town did not move on the issue, “I will get a bulldozer and I will remove that fill, whether it’s legal, illegal, in between. He did it with a contractor – nothing happened to him, that I know of, so I can do it.”

Bryant Burns, a regular participant on the public floor, said, “Why does [Goldberg] need to disturb us for his water? Why doesn’t he go in from his own road? I don’t think that’s ever been discussed, whether it’s costly or not. He would not be distracting anybody’s environment, if he went in from his own road, not from ours.

“If he needs access to Chestnut Lane for some reason that’s undisclosed, Mr. Kurek and I both expected that that dirt between our properties will be moved and that grade that originally was before he illegally brought that dirt in is put back to normal, as that is a violation of town code 101.4, which the town seems to enforce on some people and not on others, so there’s already a code violation that’s in place that nobody is doing anything about. Whether you’re taking to court or whatever, that dirt is on town property, and so the town is now violating their own town code by stockpiling dirt within 50 feet of another person’s property. That’s a violation as it sits right now.”

He continued, “If he’s going to bring in that much dirt, if it’s more than an acre of property that he’s developing, shouldn’t there be some sort of engineering or storm water prevention permit be permitted by New York state, being that it’s developed over a certain amount of area where storm water may be a problem on residents next door or dirt washing down during erosion, entering other people’s property, since we all live on a hill? We also want a clear indication from the contractor exactly where they’re going to place the water and gas, if, in fact, the board does agree to allow him to do it.”

Russ Metcalf also spoke up, saying that if the matter of debate is in reference to town codes 101.1 and 101.2, the argument is moot, as those codes were “rendered unconstitutional in Boston Fire Company v. Town of Boston.” The board affirmed that neither of those codes had been amended. However, Goldberg disagreed with that premise, stating that code 101 is in reference to “removing fill” and not dumping it. Kobiolka said he would “have to look into it.”

At the close of the public meeting, the board agreed to “reserve decision on this permit application.” Supervisor Martin Ballowe was absent from the meeting, and the board preferred to have everyone active in the decision-making process, especially considering the number of comments at the hearing. The earliest a decision can be made is at the board’s next meeting, which is on Sept. 3. Until then, Goldberg, of his own will, is allowed to “do remedial work,” such as uncover the bases of the trees.

In other board news:

– Robert Weber was recognized with a proclamation during a brief ceremony at the meeting, for 70 years of service with the Boston Fire Company, dating back to April 3, 1944. As recorded in the proclamation, Weber “held the positions of chief, assistant chief, captain, lieutenant, executive board member and mechanic and was on seven replacement committees. In addition, Weber was a Navy Seebee in the South Pacific for three years in World War II. Robert has been an exceptional asset to the Boston Fire Company and helped steer the fire company where it is today,” the proclamation states. “Now, therefore be it resolved that the Boston town board, on behalf of the residents of the town, wish to express our warmest wishes to Robert Weber for his exemplary standards and dedicated service to the town of Boston community.”

– Councilman Jeff Genzel announced that the Boston Community Foundation, after two years, is back to non-for-profit status. “Now we can apply for grants for our sports, gets lights up. [It’s] very exciting,” said Genzel.

– In light of the town’s purchase and installation of an eight-camera security system in its offices, the board resolved that “review of the town of Boston’s security tapes should only be done at the direction of the town of Boston supervisor or, in his or her absence, the deputy town supervisor,” as carried in resolution 2014-12.

– Budget meetings are scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.

– A public hearing was scheduled for 7:40 p.m. on Sept. 3 to hear comments on a special use permit for Albert Altherr at Hillcrest Avenue.

The Sept. 3 meeting of the town of Boston will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Boston Town Hall, located at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.


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