The Town of Rhinebeck’s January Newsletter

January is a very busy month at Town Hall. We spent a lot of time preparing for our Reorganizational Meeting, which was held on January 2nd. This is when we set our priorities, reappoint all of our professional consultants, name official newspapers, banks, appoint committees, statutory board members, staff, and volunteers, set our salary schedule, and map out the order of business for the Town Board.

The Town Clerks and I spent many hours over several weeks reviewing contracts, negotiating rates, speaking to committee and board members, looking at old resolutions, initiating new hires by the Town Board, and making adjustments to our appointments and actions in accordance with our adopted budget and the goals of the current Town Board. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it, as the “Reorg” Meeting provides clear policy and a framework for the work to be done in the coming year.

Several very positive initiatives are moving forward this year, beginning with the reorganization of our Zoning Department. With the adoption of our Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Law in 2009, the Town formalized a commitment to maintain Rhinebeck’s rural character, embrace smart growth principles, preserve open space and critical environmental areas, and maintain the centrality of the Village as our business district.

Supporting our Comprehensive Plan and administering our code is of the utmost importance. We are determined to establish a process that works, is well ordered, and easily services the public.  To that end, and with the departure of Zoning Administrator Ron Evangelista, we decided to create two job positions and therefore have two new employees.

Our new Zoning Administrator is Larissa DeLango, a Red Hook resident and former Amenia Planning Board Chair.  Larissa is available to the public Monday through Thursday9am – 1pm. She will work with our Building Department to review and process building permit requests, ensure compliance with our zoning law, and help applicants with pre-planning strategies.

Our second new hire is Zoning Enforcement Officer, John Fenton. John is currently the Village Code Enforcement Officer and Zoning Administrator and comes to us with years of solid experience. John will be working with Kerri Yamashita, our Special Prosecutor, to enforce a number of chronic zoning issues and to deal with new problems as they arise.

Because the jobs are so different – reviewing and processing building permits and enforcing the code – and because there is so much volume right now in Rhinebeck, we believe that hiring two people will allow better service for each function and give us staffing flexibility which, ultimately, saves money.

Additionally, Deputy Supervisor Allan Scherr obtained a $40,000 County Shared Service grant to hire a Pace Law School land use team to review the processes and systems in our Building, Planning, and Zoning Departments.  The purpose of the study is to recommend changes to increase customer satisfaction and improve efficiency and processing time. One of the expected outcomes is moving to an integrated electronic records system for all three departments.

We want you to know that we are working hard to make our Zoning Department user friendly. Our Zoning Review Group is continuously examining our laws for needed revisions, adjustments, and alterations. If you have questions regarding our Zoning Law or permitting process, please contact me. We want to proactively help address your issues. Rhinebeck is a special town and we want it to remain so as it grows.

On a final note, each year I compile a Town Board To Do list (below). The list includes projects that individual board members are working on, as well as issues that need to be examined and addressed. The list is aspirational and will, most likely, change as new issues arise during the year. We publish this both in the spirit of accountability and to elicit your input. Please take a look and let us know if you would like to either suggest we take on a specific project or if you’d like to volunteer to help and I will update you as the year progresses. 

Please come in and visit or contact me with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. I am in Town Hall weekdays, I promptly answer my emails at supervisor@rhinebeckny.gov, and I am eager to help you however I can.  If you would like to receive our monthly online newsletter and public notices, please e-mail your information to the Town Clerk:  townclerk@rhinebeckny.gov.

With Warmest Regards,

Elizabeth Spinzia

Supervisor, Town of Rhinebeck

 

2018 Town Board Initiatives

Shared Service and Consolidation Grants

• Town/Village Highway and Maintenance Consolidation/Shared Services – Complete Study

• Town/Village Justice Court Consolidation /Shared Services – RFP & Begin Study

• Town Building, Zoning, and Process Study (Pace) – Begin Study

• Apply for Grant for Master Revitalization Plan for Town Pool and Buildings

Projects with the Village

• Joint Town & Village Environment Committee – Finish History Overview, Identify Projects

• Complete NY Climate Smart/Green Community Certification

• Continue Partnership with Riverkeeper – Water Quality

• Explore Construction of Parking Lot at site of future Community Center at TTSM Park for current Village Overflow Parking

• Appoint Town/Village Emergency Coordinator – Begin Updating Emergency Protocols

Departmental Projects

• Apply for Grant to Digitize all Building Department Records from 1972 to Present

• Work with our new Zoning Administrator and Enforcement to Restructure Department

• Hire Single Appointed Assessor/Restructure Department

• Award Contract for Town Wide Reassessment & Revaluation

Green Initiatives

• Explore Community Solar at Town Landfill

• Install EV Charging Station(s) at Starr Library

• LED Grant – Study – switching from rented incandescent to Town owned streetlights

• Partner with Winnakee to Develop Walking and Biking Trails

Land Use and Local Laws

• Local Zoning Laws – Have Zoning Review Committee look at Short Term Rentals, Billboards, Tiny Houses, Live/Work, HP20 District Uses, and Four Corners for possible amendments to the code

• Write and Adopt Town Historic Preservation Local Law

• Negotiate and obtain settlement from Attorney General/State Comptroller for legal fees to defend Town against two lawsuits per the Greenway Plan

• Complete RFP to construct cell tower at former Town Landfill site

Miscellaneous

• TTSM Park Fields – Assess Interest from Sports Groups to Spearhead Development

• With Supervisors and Mayors of Dutchess County – Seek Additional Non Tax Revenue Streams

• Dog Park – Plan to Revitalize Membership or Dissolve IMA and Remove Park

• Town Hall – Air Conditioning, Painting, and Screen for PowerPoint Presentations

• Design Town Seal as Logo for Stationary, Business Cards, Employee ID cards, and Town Trucks