Story by Katie Bisaro
After 15 years, Jo-Ann Rome will be retiring from her position as Village Clerk for the Village of Warwick effective Fri., Oct. 27. The news was announced at the regular Village Board meeting on Mon., Oct. 2.
Mayor Michael Newhard said it was a sad day for the Village of Warwick and characterized Rome as a “remarkable employee and remarkable [public] servant.”
In her retirement letter, Rome thanked the Mayor and Board of Trustees for the opportunities and personal development that had been provided to her during her tenure as Clerk.
“While I look forward to enjoying my retirement, I will miss the work and my Village Hall family,” Rome wrote.
Moment of Silence for Disaster Victims
Before the start of Monday’s meeting, Mayor Newhard asked for a moment of silence to remember those who were victims of the “terrible devastation of the hurricanes, the earthquakes, and horrible attack in Las Vegas.”
Two Public Hearings Held
Two public hearings were held prior to the start of the regular business meeting to consider amending local laws.
The first public hearing was in regards to permanent sign regulations in Light Industrial (LI) Zoning Districts to rectify an omission of regulations in that zone in the existing code. The sign ordinance will regulate the size, proportion, style and lighting of signage erected by businesses in the LI zone.
Public commentary included questions from residents regarding the new law’s effect on applications currently before the Board for signage. The Board of Trustees reported that no applications were currently before the Board for any signs.
The public hearing was closed, but no further action was taken by the Board regarding this matter during the regular meeting.
The second public hearing considered an amendment to local law that will establish an official “Schedule of Fees” to be maintained in the Office of the Village Clerk. This fee schedule can be amended from time to time by resolution of the Village Board.
As it stands now, the fees are set within the local law of the Village code and any changes to the fees are a cumbersome process. The new law would remove the longer process, but retains the requirement that any fee change must still be done by Board resolution.
Resident Joe Lawlor asked if, in order to change the fees under the current law, a public hearing would have to be held. Trustee Barry Cheney confirmed that to be part of the current process. Trustee Eileen Patterson pointed out that, under the amended law, any change in fees would still be done on the record.
The public hearing was closed without further commentary.
During the regular Board meeting, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution adopting a local law establishing a Schedule of Fees: “Except as may be otherwise expressly provided within the Village of Warwick Code, all fees charged by the Village of Warwick shall be in accordance with the “Schedule of Fees” adopted by resolution of the Village Board, which Schedule of Fees shall be maintained on file in the office of the Village Clerk and which may be amended from time to time by further resolutions of the Village Board.”
Residents Speak Out Regarding Elm St. Project
Village residents were in attendance once again at the Board of Trustees meeting to express their concerns regarding 16 Elm St. which is the proposed new site for Yesterday’s restaurant. Several spoke during the Privilege of the Floor portion of the meeting.
Concern over Environmental Assessment Process
Stephen Gross, an environmental consultant, spoke at length to the Board regarding the Village of Warwick Planning Board and the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) process. Gross disagreed with several of the impact determinations made by the Planning Board on the EAF Part 2 form, particularly with regards to noise, odor, and outdoor lighting.
The purpose of the EAF Part 2, according to Gross, is to determine potential impacts of the project. These potential impacts can then be further researched and analyzed at the next step in the process, EAF Part 3.
In Gross’s opinion, several issues, including noise, archeological significance and consistency with the established community, should be further examined in the EAF Part 3 process.
According to Gross, Planning Board Chairman George Aulen instructed engineer David Getz to check “no” for all potential impacts while the remainder of the Planning Board members remained silent. Gross, citing his over 30 years of experience with the EAF process in various communities, believes that several of the issues should have, in fact, been checked off “yes” and then further researched in the EAF Part 3 process.
Disappointment in the Planning Board
Glen Carter of Van Buren St. also spoke to the Board about being present at the Planning Board meeting.
“What I witnessed was a ritualistic reading of a 17-page document without any consideration of the true significance of many of the things on the list of questions, by the very people [who] could have made the difference… people who represent us,” he stated.
Carter also believes that Planning Board members should come out to the neighborhood and speak to the residents themselves about their concerns. Other residents spoke to the Board regarding the “lack of respect,” in their opinion, that the Planning Board seems to have for their concerns.
Margaret Bowes, feels that only Yesterday’s owner, John Christison, is being heard throughout this process.
“He [Christison] is a businessman and not a resident of this Village. It would be naïve to expect him to put our interests above his own. That is the job of our Planning Board and they have failed beyond measure as far as I’m concerned,” said Bowes.
“No Confidence” in Planning Board Chairman
Warwick resident Ed Sattler characterized Aulen as “dismissive” and one who does not give the rest of the Planning Board a voice. Sattler expressed a “vote of no confidence” in the Planning Board Chairman.
It is believed that nearly 40,000 people attended this year’s Applefest on Sun., Oct. 1. Mayor Michael Newhard commended the organizers for their efforts in crowd control and clean-up.
ASIAM Race Series Comes to the Village
The Village Board of Trustees approved use of Railroad Green on Sun., Oct. 22 starting at 8 a.m. for an ASIAM Running Event – the second in a series of running events taking place in Warwick. The first and third events will take place in the Town of Warwick.
The Trustees discussed some of the logistics of this new event as participants will be running on streets within the Village. Approximately 100 adults and 50 children are expected to participate.
Veteran’s Day Parade on Nov. 11
The Board of Trustees granted permission to the Veterans of Foreign War Post 4662 to hold their annual Veteran’s Day Parade and service on Sat., Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. The small portion of Forester Ave., from Church St. Ext. to Park Ln., will be closed to limit traffic noise for the duration of the brief ceremony.
Salvation Army/Lions Club Bell Ringers
The Warwick Lions Club will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army on Main St. in the Village on Sat., Dec. 2, Sun., Dec. 3, Sat., Dec. 16 and Sun., Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Next Village Board Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Mon., Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.