Resident questions advisory group role

Delmar - A Delmar resident asked members of the Bethlehem Town Board Wednesday, July 25, to restate the role of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Conservation, or CACC, about 18 months after the committee's formation.

Nancy Neff and her family are eighth-generation farmers. She told members of the board it is her family who should decide what will happen to the 300 acres of farmland they own in the town and not a vocal group of open space preservationists.

"The open space plan allows those who do not own the property nor make their living from it to craft regulations that can devalue it," Neff said.

Because 4,500 acres of town land is in an agricultural district and much of the newly developed town land allows for more green space and recreational areas, Neff said an open space plan is unnecessary. She also questioned the ability to obtain state or federal grants because the town has a specific open space plan.

"By reviewing the document on funding prepared by the CACC that was presented in January, I did not notice any of the funding sources necessitating an open space plan, said Neff

It is not the first time a town resident has presented concerns to the board regarding the role of CACC.

CACC held several meetings last year with some members urging the town board to ensure only "willing landowners" would participate in future open space plan opportunities.

Minutes of the CACC Advisory Committee in October stated that committee member Valerie Newell questioned the need for an open space plan.

The town board reassured Neff at the July 25 meeting that taking private land from a property owner who has no interest in selling or giving the land away is not the group's purpose.

"It is not my intent to involve any farm or piece of private land owned by someone who does not want to participate," said town Supervisor Jack Cunningham.

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