Highlights of the April 4, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Agricultural District Designation Denied for Two Dryden Village Parcels
The Legislature approved the addition of three properties to the county’s Agricultural District Number 1, on the east side of Cayuga Lake, but did not include two parcels proposed for inclusion, located on Springhouse Road at the edge of the Village of Dryden. Dryden village officials have opposed the addition of those parcels, owned by Kenneth Miller, citing open space concerns.   Dryden legislators Martha Robertson and Michael Hattery both supported denial of the agricultural designation for the Miller properties, maintaining that without the designation, permitted land use would be virtually the same, but that the village would retain ultimate authority, instead of relinquishing some control to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Local land use controls should be respected, said Hattery, especially since the village is currently revising its zoning ordinance.  Mr. Miller told legislators he would cooperate with the village, but stated he needed the designation as protection from potential new laws the village might pass which could affect his farming operation.  The county’s Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board supported the ag designation for the Miller properties; the county Planning Advisory Board opposed it.  Striking the village properties from the district changes passed by a split vote of 9-6; legislators approved the amended district changes by a vote of 14-1 (Legislator Greg Stevenson dissenting).  The action adds to the district one property on Old Orchard Road in the Town of Lansing, and three other properties on Spring House Road and West Dryden Road, in the Town of Dryden.
Contact:  Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Legislator Michael Hattery, 844-4361; Legislator Greg Stevenson , 273-2439.

Legislature Supports New York State and Federal Funding for “2-1-1” Service
The Legislature, without dissent, endorsed two measures urging funding to support development of
“2-1-1” Community information systems at the state and federal level.  The Legislature thanks the state legislature and the governor for including funding for “2-1-1” in the just- passed state budget and urged that sufficient funding of not less than $10.66 million dollars be allocated to support the service this fiscal year.  It also urges the 110th Congress to move forward on the “Calling-for-2-1-1 Act” that would authorize $700 million over six years to ensure nationwide access to “2-1-1” service.  For more than the past decade, Ithaca’s Information and Referral Service has been working to institute the local “2-1-1” program.

Contact:  Nathan Shinagawa, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 280-7557

Among other business,
  • Tompkins Cortland Community College president, Dr. Carl Haynes, delivered his annual State of the College report.  Dr. Haynes reported that the college is doing well, with construction plans for its physical expansion on target, including construction of a new athletic complex as its first phase. Academic initiatives include preparation for a 10-year accreditation by the Middle States Commission, and placement data, he said, shows strong placement of college graduates in employment and transfer to four-year institutions.  The college, he reported, continues to provide significant support to the community through its “TC3.biz” program.
  • The Legislature heard a progress report on the county’s employee-driven sustainability program.  Facilitator Cheryl Nelson reported that much progress has been made since the Legislature created the Sustainability Team last November, with subgroups examining elements including carbon dioxide emissions and energy savings in county buildings; alternate fueled vehicles in the county fleet; requirements for Energy Star-rated equipment; waste assessments in county buildings; developing environmentally preferable purchasing practices; and educating and involving county employees in the sustainability effort.  Nelson said she is pleased to be associated with “a dedicated and enthusiastic group of employees who realize how important it is for each of us, and the county as a government leader and large employer, to do our part to preserve the natural resources and seek ways to reduce our dependence on them.”
  • Health and Human Services Committee Nathan Shinagawa expressed his committee’s concern over a reported upcoming policy change by one local newspaper.  The Ithaca Journal, he reported, will soon no longer print free death notices, which include details concerning calling hours and services. Committee members, he said, are concerned about financial hardship posed for some in having to purchase paid obituaries.  The committee, he said, will investigate the situation and will write a letter of concern as an initial step.