What’s new on the plateau

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Patrick Taylor 

Highlands Mayor

The town board will hold its February meeting tonight [Thursday] at the Highlands Community Center next to the ball field. It will begin at 7 p.m. with public comment being the first agenda item. The agenda has a substantial list of items for board action.  

A request will be made by John Lupoli to amend the cleaning contract for the restrooms at Town Square.  His company maintains the facilities for the town. There has been an increase in cleaning costs such as water usage.

The board will receive an update from Kaye McHan of the chamber concerning a new landscape plan for the Highlands Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.  The facility is owned by the town and is leased to the chamber.

The board will consider a proposal for a second opinion from an attorney who specializes in land use and  STR [short term rentals] issues. The review would involve the attorney examining the planning board  STR recommendations and how they comport with existing residential ordinances.  A letter from the attorney outlining the services to be provided and fees charged will be considered.

The approval of resolutions to apply for ARPA funds to replace a pre-clarifier tank at the water plant and for the Dog Mountain waterline and water tank replacement is on the agenda.  A conflict of interest policy for grant applications is included.  These procedural items need to be in place before we can begin the grant application process.

In my mayor report I will share my proposed procedures for conducting the public hearing concerning the planning board’s STR recommendations. The hearing is scheduled on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m., at the Highlands Community Building.  Let me briefly review my plans.

First,  both verbal and written statements will be accepted. Speakers at the hearing will have three minutes to address the board. That timeframe translates into about 20 speakers per hour.  Speakers will also be allowed to submit written comments. For people not able to attend the hearing, they will be able to submit written statements for the record within a given timeframe.

People wishing to comment will have to sign up to speak. Staff will be at the hearing site at 4:30 to start the list.  There will be an email option for signing up. I will call in order the people on the list and keep the time.

All public comments will be recorded. Written statements will be copied and distributed to town commissioners.  

I will be seeking advice and guidance from commissioners concerning hearing procedures. I have also consulted with the town attorney.

The Highlands Planning  Board recommendations can be reviewed at the Town of Highlands website. After the meeting tonight, the hearing procedures will be posted on the town website some time Friday.

Finally, the hearing on the 24th will be just that, a forum where commissioners will hear and receive public feedback concerning the proposed STR recommendations. There will be no final action taken concerning the recommendations at the hearing.  Board action will occur at later meetings.

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