By RICK REMSNYDER
Acknowledging that there is a lack of affordable housing in the Town of Gardiner, the Town Board approved a resolution to join Ulster County in an effort to solve the countywide housing crisis.
The Town Board voted 4-0 at its March 14 meeting to join the fight to provide more affordable housing by joining Ulster County’s Housing Smart Communities Initiative.
The town will designate a coordinator to serve as a liaison between Ulster County and the town.
The town will also:
• Form a housing task force or designate an existing official housing-related body of the town to serve as the group committed to the program.
• Register to participate in the program on the Housing Smart Communities Initiative website.
• Establish a community outreach and educational campaign on the importance of developing a range of housing options.
• Begin implementing a prioritized set of Housing Smart Actions included in the program.
“This whole concept of the Housing Smart Community thing should help us to achieve the number one goal from the Comp Plan, which is more housing,” Deputy Supervisor Warren Wiegand said.
In other news, the board approved a resolution to authorize Supervisor Marybeth Majestic to sign an agreement with Wireless Edge to remove the second cell tower in the town when it was no longer in use.
Attorney Victoria Polidoro explained when the Town Board approved a special-use permit for Wireless Edge to build a second cell tower the business was required to provide a performance guarantee that the tower, would come down when it was not being used.
The decommissioning agreement would allow the Town of Gardiner to take it down if Wireless Edge went out of business or was nonresponsive.
Wireless Edge also provided a $25,000 performance guarantee.
Majestic, Wiegand and Councilman Franco Carucci voted in favor of resolution. Councilwoman Carol Richman said she recused herself “because I did not vote for the cell tower in the first place.” The other board member Laura Walls was absent from the March 14 session.
The board approved Wireless Edge’s application to build a 110-foot cell tower to improve coverage in the western portion of the town on August 2, 2022.
Richman cast the lone dissenting vote to allow construction of the tower next to the Town of Gardiner Highway Department at 630 South Mountain Road near the base of the Shawangunk Ridge.
Town residents overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the tower in a series of public hearings held by the Town Board and the Town Planning Board.
The public’s objections were largely that the tower would spoil the views of Gardiner’s scenic Shawangunk Ridge. Many homeowners said the values of their properties would decrease if the towers were erected and their cell phone coverage was adequate.
“I feel that the cell tower is necessary for the safety of both our residents and our visitors,” Majestic said at the time of her vote for the new cell tower.
The board voted 4-0 to increase the fee for the town’s six-week summer camp by $25 per child to $550 for a town residents’ first child. Additional children from the same family would be charged $525 each to attend the camp.
Rates for campers outside the town would be $700 for the first child and $675 for each additional child.
Majestic said Brian Edelstein, the summer recreation director, recommended the additional fee due to increases in the minimum wage for camp employees, an increase in pay for bus drivers and additional charges for other things at the camp.
Majestic also said that the Gardiner summer camp fee was one of the lowest in the region.