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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 31, 2006

$48K grant will buy no-smoke units

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – The air will soon be cleaner in and around the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Department.

The department just received a federal grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $48,450.

Fred Spaulding, the department’s fire chief, said the money will be used to get "Ward diesel no-smoke units" installed on each of Onesquethaw’s six pieces of equipment. The units, made by Ward Diesel filter Systems, Inc., are used to filter carbons, carcinogens, and soot out of the vehicles’ emissions, Spaulding said.

The units will help provide a safer environment, he said, and will "create better air quality within our station."

Senator, Charles Schumer ( Dem., N.Y.) made the announcement on Aug. 10. The money comes from a fund called the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which was established in 2001, after the terrorist attacks, under the Department of Homeland Security.

The program "came about as firefighters didn’t have updated equipment," Bethany Lesser, press secretary with Schumer’s office, told The Enterprise.

The program, passed with bipartisan support, was established to "provide funding for both career and volunteer fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical services providers," Lesser said.

The cost of equipment and training has skyrocketed, she said. "Someone needed to help pay; otherwise it would be taxpayer money," she said, referring to local levees. She added, "Communities are already stretched thin."

The grant program has awarded money to fire departments all over the country. According to the program’s website, in the state of New York, $37 million has been awarded to 380 departments.

Spaulding said the Onesquethaw department is responsible for coming up with 5 percent of the awarded amount. "So it is not a free ride," he explained.

Competitive process

"It’s a competitive process," said Lesser, of the selection process for the grant.

Departments submit their applications, explaining what they have need for, and what the money, if awarded, would be spent on, Lesser told The Enterprise.

The Department of Homeland Security reviews applications, and makes its selection based on the needs of the fire departments, and what Homeland Security is looking to support, she said.

Lesser said the program has been successful at improving fire safety around the country. Because of this, she says, "Congress has raised the amount of money authorized for the program from $100 million for fiscal year 2001 to $950 million in fiscal year 2006."

But, she says, the Bush Administration has tried for the last three years, to cut the program entirely. Lesser says that each year, the amount of money available for the program gets cut back. For 2006, Congress was able to restore the money to $542 million, but that is just over half of the $950 million that was authorized by Congress, she said.

Fred Spaulding, and the rest of the volunteers at the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Department are looking forward to "getting up to speed" and having a "cleaner environment" around the station, Spaulding told The Enterprise.

Hydrotech may move to New Scotland

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Dean VanAlstyne, who has run his business, Hydrotech, from South Troy for nearly six years, hopes to bring it closer to his home, in Unionville.

ValAlstyne, and Unionville property owner, Martin Flansburg, brought a proposal before the zoning board last week, in hopes of gaining approval to go ahead with plans to build a garage for Hydrotech.

VanAlstyne hopes to buy property from Flansburg, on the Delaware Turnpike in Unionville, to build a commercial building to use as garage and office space for his business. VanAlstyne lives about three miles from Flansburg’s property.

One of the problems with the property, as Flansburg told the zoning board last week, is that the well only draws three gallons of water per minute, which is not sufficient for a residential dwelling. It would, however, be enough water pressure for a garage, he said at the meeting.

The property falls in a residential district, where commercial use is not permitted.

State law requires a use variance, and Flansburg must "prove unneccessary hardship," Paul Cantlin, zoning administrator and chief building inspector for the town of New Scotland, told The Enterprise.

Flansburg must prove financial difficulty, and that he has made attempts to "use the parcel or sell the parcel," Cantlin told The Enterprise. He can do this by showing documentation from the real-estate agency that he used to try to sell the property, he explained.

VanAlstyne’s wife, Patricia VanAlstyne, asked the board if it would help to have confirmation from the Albany County Department of Health that the well testing showed that the water pressure was not sufficient for a home. Louis Neri, the attorney for the board, said that would be helpful.

The proposed building would be 60 feet by 100 feet, and serve as "a place to house our equipment and materials," VanAlstyne told The Enterprise. It would also have an office for an employee to answer phone calls, and handle paperwork.

Hydrotech is a bulk plant-maintenance and emergency-spill response company. VanAlstyne said he has about 15 employees, and the company covers the area from Newburg to Utica.

He also said that he has faced some problems with vandalism and theft at his current business location in Troy. "I had two trucks stolen on Memorial Day," he said this week. The building would be a secure location for his equipment, he said.

He explained, at the meeting, that all of his work would be done off-site, and that the building would be used as a garage for his machinery, and not a work site.

If Flansburg can prove unecessary hardship, he is then entitled to a use variance. If the use variance is granted, it would "go to the parcel of land," Cantlin said.

At that point, Flansburg could sell his property to VanAlstyne. VanAlstyne could then proceed with his plans to build a garage.

Other business
In other business, at recent meetings, the zoning board:

– Granted a request, on Aug. 22 , for an adjournment until next month on an application submitted by James Quaremba. In his application, Quaremba was seeking an area variance for a subdivision of his property on Mason Lane. The application was for relief of five feet from the 120-foot lot width requirement, as the lot was only 115 feet wide.

However, at the time of the application, Quaremba’s understanding was that the property was a class-one lot, but, as it turns out, it is a class-two lot, which has different requirements. A class-one lot falls within both a water and sewer district. Quaremba’s parcel does not fall within a municipal water district, which makes it a class-two lot, requiring it to have a width of 130 feet.

Quaremba wants to review his application with his attorney, before making a decision on how to proceed. His application will be on next month’s agenda; and

– In July, heard from Todd Smith, who owns property on Wolf Road, and submitted an application for a temporary-use permit. The zoning law limits the number of units per lot to one. Smith’s property has had a mobile home on it for 45 years. He wants to build a residence next to the mobile home, and then tear down the mobile home when the residence is completed. The board granted Smith the temporary-use permit, specifying that the mobile home must be removed by June 1, 2007.

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