March 5, 2005

Peaceful hearing on Dryden Mutual annexation

The Village of Dryden Trustees and the Town of Dryden Board held a joint public hearing on Wednesday night to discuss the possible annexation of a parcel of land owned by Dryden Mutual Insurance to the village. Mayor Reba Taylor and Trustees Mark Strom, Dan Wakeman, and Bob Witty were there from the village, and Town Councilmen Steve Stelick and Mike Hattery were there from the town.

About seven people attend a hearing on annexing property
About seven members of the public attend a hearing on annexing property to the Village of Dryden.

County Legislator Mike Lane spoke, saying:

On February 8th, I facilitated a meeting of property owners, those owners north of the village that are located within the town sewer district to provide information to those property owners about issues having to do with water and sewer problems in that area, and also the potential of annexation.

I invited Mayor Taylor and Supervisor Trumbull, and also the Town Attorney and some other people were there, simply to answer questions. It was not an official meeting of either the town or the village. It was simply an informational session. There were a number of questions asked at that time. Some people indicated an interest in an annexation of the whole area, some people indicated that they were not interested in an annexation of the area, some indicated that they had a particular need. Mr. Baxter was there and spoke about the particular need that Dryden Mutual has presently to try to become part of the village.

I simply want it on the record that people are talking about that, and I think the communities need to come to grips with whether it makes sense to annex parcel by parcel, as needs arise, or whether it makes sense to annex the general area.

There were some figures given at the meeting, by the Town Attorney. I know some of those figures have been questioned since then as to whether they would actually apply. I would certainly like to have an opportunity to get better figures out to property owners up there.

Having said that, I'm not really speaking for or against Dryden Mutual's application here today, but I wanted to make everyone aware that that did happen.

Next to speak was Robert P. Baxter, CEO and General Manager of Dryden Mutual Insurance:

Quite simply put, my board is at a juncture in our planning for the future. We have been in this area since before the Civil War, and the board is committed to trying to remain here.

We've undergone substantial expansion of our business in the last five years - it's more than doubled - and we're going to have to expand our building at some point. We've been advised by the Department of Health that in our current situation we have to meet higher standards of water supply. We are on a well, we have met those standards, and are struggling to continue to meet those standards as recently as today.

In laying down our future in the community, we simply need access to public water. We have 45 full-time employees on site, and roughly 10 part-timers. We are looking to add in the next ten years certainly double what we have.

When it became clear that the Department of Transportation was going to be successful in getting a purchase offer on the land next to us - part of that is to get water for themselves - and they were annexed, that property adjacent, to the village. We realize that it would have been better for a group of us to be annexed at the same time, but none of our neighbors have any immediate interest in doing so.

Both the trustees of the village and the town ought to be also cognizant of the fact that we've just purchased... 4.26 acres that's in the village, adjacent to our property. I haven't closed on it yet; the offer is just signed. It hasn't been ratified within the board, and won't be so until March 22nd.

Mayor Taylor asked Baxter to identify the property Dryden Mutual is purchasing on a map, and asked if the audience had questions for Mr. Baxter. There were none. Town Councilman Steve Stelick read Town Attorney Mahlon Perkins' review of the annexation petition and a number of technical errors in it. Village Attorney David Dubow also mentioned a technical error he had already resolved.

Legislator Lane spoke again briefly after the legal discussion, saying:

I think the idea of annexation of the area north of the village makes a lot of sense for the planned, orderly development of the area, the commercial area particularly... It's very hard to see where the village stops if you're driving north when you come to the village line because of the development in that area. I think that there's a community of interest between the properties in the sewer district area, and this property is in that district, and also the rest of the village.

I think it's pretty obvious from the fact that there has been another recent annexation, which is adjacent to this. I think that's one of the things that needs to be looked at when you're deciding whether or not to approve an annexation is that community of interest... factor that needs to be present. I wanted to say I think it is.

Town Councilman Mike Hattery said that the Town had been looking into, with Senator Jim Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, some "special legislation to try and resolve a larger-scale annexation and/or water district from the village," and both boards need to discuss this.

Both boards will be discussing annexation at future meetings, developing findings within 90 days.

Posted by simon at March 5, 2005 8:29 AM in ,
Note on photos