B y Jaime Thomas
The saga of Hartford versus Washington County over the Eldridge Lane landfill property continues.
Following years of litigation between the two entities, during which the town sued the county over money it felt it was owed for the county-owned spot, an Argyle resident won the land by auction this past fall.
A settlement months in the making stipulated the county would pay Hartford a lump sum of $40,000 and an additional $4,000 on Jan. 1 of every year the land remains in county ownership.
“The county has not transferred or sold the property yet. This payment should’ve come Jan. 1,” said Town Supervisor Dana Haff at a town board meeting Tuesday night. He was not satisfied with the county’s actions.
“It’s kind of odd the very first opportunity the county has to not honor their obligation they take it,” he said. Following board approval, he said he would be in contact with Attorney Rob Winn to challenge the county in honoring their agreement.
“The town of Hartford has a long history of being screwed by the county. We’ve been screwed so often by the county, we know what it looks like before it happens,” Haff said. “Once again, I think the county is trying to give us the shaft on not honoring their obligation.”
Haff said through correspondence with County Attorney Roger Wickes, he learned the municipality plans to pay Hartford the additional money once they close the sale with the buyer.
“I fully hope the county will not try to wait for the sale, because that has nothing to do with us,” Haff said. A fellow board member asked if the county’s late payment constitutes grounds to breach the agreement, but Haff said he does not want to complicate matters more, only to hold the county to a legal agreement.
“All I want is for the county to honor the agreement and pay us. They promised to pay us if we would stop suing them,” he said.
Economic Development Committee
Also during the meeting, the board voted to revitalize an Economic Development Advisory Committee upon the request of Councilman Robert Dillon. This group would be a citizen committee of five Hartford residents, with Dillon serving as a non-voting chair.
The committee would not make decisions for the town; rather, it would serve as an advisory group to the town board.
“We have a lot of things that could be done here,” Dillon said, going on to explain that other parts of Washington County ship organically farmed goods and other products to Saratoga, Albany and New York City.
Haff said members of the committee would serve annual, one-year terms. Dillon also said he plans to work with Laura Oswald, who is serving in the newly-created county position of director of economic development in Washington County.
Fire insurance, chickens
With the recent Tyler Farm fire in January, the Hartford Volunteer Fire Department was forced to call on mutual aid from a number of area departments. Because temperatures were so cold, at more than 20 degrees below zero, five crews saw damage to their equipment. In the case of a mutual aid call, the town of Hartford is responsible insurance-wise for damage.
Claims from these departments—Cossayuna, West Pawlet, Bay Ridge, Granville and North Granville—totaled about $5,000.
In other matters the board discussed waiving a local law regarding the proximity of a slaughterhouse to a residence. Miles Hollister wants to raise free-range chickens and turkeys for his wife’s restaurant and catering business.
Haff said the town’s attorney is researching whether the law surrounding the issue is at the state or local level. He proposed allowing the process if Hollister is able to get statements from neighbors approving of his plan.
There will be a special meeting of the board at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 to conduct a workshop on the town’s codification project. The next regular meeting of the Hartford Town Board will take place Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. at the town offices.