Petition has no legal impact on Ripley sewer work

Photo by David Prenatt Rob Gauchat, vice president of sales and marketing for Solar Liberty, speaks to the Ripley Town Council.

RIPLEY — A petition asking that Ripley town officials consider an alternate route for the planned sewer project has no legal impact, council members and residents learned.

At the November meeting of the Ripley Town Council, Supervisor Doug Bowen read a letter from Charles Schachter of the law firm Harris Beach, regarding the petition of some Ripley residents addressing plans for Sewer district #2. The petition, signed mainly by residents of Route 20, along the planned sewer route, requested that the town consider a route that would by-pass their homes.

Ripley officials had contacted Harris Beach to inquire if the town was obliged to take any course of action because of the petition.

However, the response from the law firm notes that since the sewer district was established on Aug. 11, 2016, “The period of time for any interested persons to commence an article 78 proceeding challenging the validity of the final order has long since expired.”

The letter goes on to state that the petition did not meet the legal definition of a petition. It was not submitted properly and it was not in the form of a legal petition as required by law. Furthermore, the signatures were not notarized.

The letter states that town officials can choose to take the request into account if they wish. Furthermore, they can either proceed as planned or make changes to the project. However, the letter states, any changes run the risk of exceeding the maximum cost allowed by New York State for such a project.

In a related matter, Bowen also read a letter from town assessor Heather Young-Deyell. The letter concluded that there would be no immediate change in home assessments as a result of the creation of the sewer district. The letter also stated that the next town-wide reassessment would be in 2022.

In another matter, council members approved the final draft of the town budget for 2019. Bowen noted that there were very few changes in the budget from 2018. “We held the line on the 2018 budget. We actually dropped $180.”

Council members and residents also listened to a presentation by Rob Gauchat, vice president of sales and marketing for Solar Liberty, regarding the possibility of a solar field. The town has been exploring the possibility of converting its energy source to solar for several months.

Gauchat told board members that the town could choose a system that delivered 412 Kilowatts, 749 kilowatts or 1000 kilowatts. While a 412 kilowatt system would offset all electrical costs of the town, Gauchat recommended that the town choose the 749 kilowatt system, so they could get other entities, such as the fire department and the school, involved.

Gauchat said a 749 kilowatt system would cost approximately $1,325,000 to install. NYSERDA could pay up to 25 percent of that cost, he said. Additionally, up to 15 percent of the cost could be paid by a corporation of wealthy individuals who call themselves Collective Sun, Gauchat said. In exchange for the cost reduction to Ripley, Collective Sun would legally own the system for six years, during which time it would receive federal and state tax credits.

The remainder of the cost would be the responsibility of the town and would require a bond issue.

The town board agreed to move forward with further research into the matter.