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With the first phase of the Dale Drive I extension near completion, it has come to the attention of the board of trustees that the development commenced without subdivision approval. Numerous legal requirements, including the failure to file a bond for the road improvements, were not met, resulting in a stop work order being issued.

The original 2001 proposal to the planning board stated the homes were to be built on a cul-de-sac. One property was to be subdivided into five parcels, leaving the existing house in place. The planning board did not approve the application and requested that the applicant to submit additional information for consideration, according to Village Attorney Greg Carman. The applicant did not comply with the request of the planning board.

"The person who owned the property at the end of the cul-de-sac split it up into five lots for four new houses, and he had to extend the road into his property to get access for the four new homes," Village Clerk John Giordano explained.

While construction on two of the four homes is completed, the requirements of a public hearing and board approval were never met, according to Giordano. In the course of addressing matters on a more recent proposal for 12 more homes on Dale Drive - the Dale Drive II extension, Carman discovered that a public hearing before the board of trustees for subdivision approval was never held for Dale Drive I.

"As to my understanding, when you have a subdivision of less than five homes, it does not require a special hearing," Deputy Mayor Joe Rachiele said. "When you have a new road being built, you need a public hearing and board approval."

In light of the hardships, the village board voted unanimously to conditionally lift the stop work order reserving final decision on the application for the April 26 board of trustees meeting. This public hearing would be to legally approve the application for a subdivision for four new homes subject to conditions imposed by the board.

Mayor Graf directed the applicant to keep the building department advised of anything they do prior to the formal approval by the board.

The board continued on to approve two grant applications; one for $220,020 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for various equipment for the Farmingdale Fire Department and the other for $2,067 for new equipment and supplies for the court clerk. Giordano thanked volunteer firefighter Mike O'Brien for filing the necessary paperwork.

"He made it a lot easier for me," Giordano said.

Discussion of the 2005/2006 village budget revealed the tentative budget for the year, which begins on June 1. The total operating budget for both the general and water funds is $6,475,015. Including the proposed capital fun, the total budget is $9,287,015.

In a general letter about the budget addressed to residents, Giordano states, "this budget continues to improve the village's fine tradition of fiscal responsibility and maintains its record of consistently providing efficient public service without reducing services. Numerous financial controls were adopted in 2004 as a result of the State Comptroller audit released that year."

In regard to the water fund budget, the letter goes on to state, "From 1989 to 2000, water rates increased from $119 to $238 for the average residential consumer; surpluses were used to offset tax increases. There were no water department surplus funds transferred to the general fund in the new budget."

The board attributed a 3 percent increase in village taxes to rising health insurance costs and a desire to reduce future expenses incurred through bonding, by establishing a reserve account and funding it for future capital expenditures.

"The village's tax base has grown over the year," explained Giordano. "Whereas 1 percent of villages, on average, has decreased throughout the state."

According to Giordano, this year the village had the largest surplus in history - over $600,000. A village resident questioned why the surplus couldn't be used to give residents a tax break this year.

Giordano responded that it is already being applied to offset taxes.

"If we didn't have the surplus, taxes would increase more than 12 percent," Giordano said.

"We're earmarking some of the surplus for future capital improvements," Rachiele added.

Mayor Graf explained that the board was looking at establishing a 10-year plan to address needs going further.

The next board of trustees meeting will be held Tuesday, April 26 at 8 p.m., April 26 at 8 p.m.


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