Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee

Regular Meeting Notes – Draft 8-10-17

Thursday, August 3, 2017 3:00 PM

Legislature Chambers



Attendee Name




Martha Robertson




Dooley Kiefer

Vice Chair


3:04 PM

Michael Sigler




David McKenna




Carol Chock




Katrina McCloy

Deputy Clerk, Legislature



Joe Mareane

County Administrator



Ed Marx

Planning and Sustainability Commissioner



Katie Borgella

Deputy Planning & Sustainability Commissioner



Frank Proto

Water Resources Council



Heather McDaniel

Director of Economic Development Services, TCAD



Margaret Frank

Asst. Director, Economic Development Services, TCA



Julia Mattick

Director, Workforce Development



Marcia Lynch

Public Info. Officer, County Administration



Scott Doyle

Associate Planner, Planning & Sustainability Dept.



Megan McDonald

Senior Planner, Planning & Sustainability Dept.




Guests:              Irene Weiser, Council member, Town of Caroline; Jennifer Dotson, Executive Director, Ithaca               Carshare; and David West, Randall + West, Inc.

Call to Order

              Ms. Robertson, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:03 p.m.

Public Comment

              There were no members of the public present.

Changes to Agenda

              There were no changes to the agenda.

Water Resources Council

Presentation of Water Resources Council 2016 Annual Report (ID #7173)

              Ms. Kiefer arrived at this time.               


              Mr. Proto, member of the Water Resources Council (WRC), provided a brief overview of the Tompkins County Water Resources Council 2016 Annual Report.  He stated there has been further work on updating the Water and Sewer Feasibility Study due to the drought of 2016.


              Mr. Proto said the Cayuga Lake Monitoring Partnership (CLMP) has received notice from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that they have expanded the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) issued to now incorporate all of Cayuga Lake.  The DEC had meetings with the WRC to provide updates.  A draft report was expected in May 2017 but has not been received yet.  Locally some requirements have been met at the southern end of the lake but since the study has been expanded to include the entire Lake there is a great deal more to do.


              Mr. Proto spoke of the study being done regarding Watershed Development and there will be a workshop this fall related to the protection of water resources in the County. 


              Mr. Proto said the WRC has been kept informed about the Hydrilla infestation including the latest report involving Wells College and the northern end of the Lake.  There is collaboration with other counties involved to share information. 


              Mr. Proto stated the WRC has been in contact with the Tompkins County Health Department regarding the recent algal bloom.  The Health Department is actively involved and will keep the WRC informed.


              Mr. Proto thanked Mr. Marx for the work he has done to assist the Water Resources Council and on behalf of the Erie Canal Commission for the work he has done on the Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail.

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True Cost Tompkins (ID #7199)

              Jennifer Dotson, Executive Director, Ithaca Carshare, and David West, Randall + West, Inc., provided a PowerPoint presentation entitled True Cost Tompkins.  The presentation reviewed case studies of the cost of transportation when that is combined with housing cost. 


Link to the project website:

Tompkins County Area Development

Monthly Report - August (ID #7198)

              Ms. McDaniel informed Committee members about a loan to Ithaca Hummus that is in default in the loan program due to the company relocating out of the area.  Ithaca Hummus is still in business with a cold packer facility in the Rochester area and company headquarters are located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  TCAD is working with Ithaca Hummus to negotiate repayment of the loan on an accelerated schedule.


              Ms. McDaniel reported that grant applications were due to the Regional Economic Development Council last week and there were approximately 15 to 20 submitted.  The Executive Committee of the Council will meet to review the applications and announcements are expected in December. 

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Workforce Development

Resolution No. - Appropriation from Contingent Fund – Terminal Pay – Employment and Training Director – Office of Employment and Training (ID #7178)


MOVER:              Carol Chock, Member

SECONDER:              Michael Sigler, Member

AYES:              Robertson, Kiefer, Sigler, McKenna, Chock

WHEREAS, the Workforce Development One Stop Career Center had one (1) Employment and Training Director leave employment June 30, 2017, and


WHEREAS, the Fiscal Policy of Tompkins County allows for terminal-pay reimbursement to Departments from the Contingent Fund, and


WHEREAS, the County’s Fiscal Policy (05-02) characterizes the Airport, the Recycling and Materials Management Department, the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council, and the Workforce Development Board as enterprise units and therefore not eligible for reimbursement of terminal pay, and


WHEREAS, unlike other enterprise units, the Workforce Development Board and the Office of Employment and Training do rely on County revenue to sustain their operations and do not have an alternative source of funding to support terminal pay, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality and the Budget, Capital and Personnel Committees, That Section 5.03-A-4 of the County Policy 05-02, prohibiting the use of County contingency funds to support terminal pay for Workforce Development be waived,


RESOLVED, further, That the Director of Finance be and hereby is authorized and directed to make the following budget appropriation for 2017:


FROM:   A1990.54440                            Contingent Fund                                           $18,115.05


TO:              6292.51000189              Employment & Training Director              $12,631.65

                                               6292.58800                            Fringes                                                                      $ 5,483.40


* * * * * * * * *


Workforce Development Update

              Ms. Mattick explained that Diane Bradac took a position at Cornell University and her last day was June 30th.  There is an ongoing search to fill her position.  The staff in the center is filling in where needed with assistance from Human Resources to ensure everything is running smoothly.  


              Ms. Mattick said there are three contractors running the summer Youth Program: Office of Employment and Training, Ithaca Youth Bureau, and Challenge Workforce Solutions.  The program is employing approximately 200 youth this summer and has been moving in the direction of placing youth in more private sector opportunities. 


              Ms. Mattick stated the Workforce Development Board is moving forward with the ongoing manufacturing project and recently met with representatives from the school districts and local manufacturing companies.  There will be two committees, each chaired by a Tompkins County manufacturer, to develop strategies to increase the supply of individuals in the manufacturing sector and the other to establish a training program for manufacturing.


              Ms. Mattick spoke of work being done with Cayuga Medical Center, Cayuga Medical Associates, and Greater Southern Tier BOCES to bring together health care providers in the community that utilize Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).  Suddenly, there is a shortage of LPNs to fill positions.  The goal is to create a coalition to ensure the success and sustainability of an LPN training program in the community with employer commitment, involvement, and engagement in advance.

Planning and Sustainability Department

Resolution No. - Authorization for Rent and Vacancy Survey RFP (ID #7190)

              Ms. McDonald stated she was seeking Committee approval for the authorization of a request-for-proposal (RFP) to contract for a housing rent and vacancy survey.  This has evolved from the recently endorsed Housing Strategy as this is part of the ongoing monitoring and data collection effort.  The RFP will include seeking consultant services to assist in developing a methodology tool and procedures to use on an annual basis and to conduct the survey. 


              Ms. Kiefer inquired if there were any plans to coordinate a group of housing related professionals in the community and identify the group for this type of work to continue.  Ms. Robertson agreed this would be beneficial and said it should be explored further. 


Following discussion it was MOVED by Mr. Sigler, seconded by Mr. McKenna, to authorize the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability to proceed with the RFP and to award the contract to provide assistance in developing (1) the methodology and procedures for conducting an annual rent and vacancy survey of rental housing throughout Tompkins County; and (2) conducting said survey in early 2018. 


A voice vote on the motion resulted as follows:  Ayes - 4 (Legislators Chock, McKenna, Robertson, and Sigler); No - 1 (Legislator Kiefer).  MOTION CARRIED.

* * * * * * * * *


Resolution No. - Authorization to Proceed with RFPs for Medium-Scale (250-500kW) Wind Site Feasibility Project (ID #7192)

              Ms. Borgella explained that the Energy Roadmap called for nearly 80% of wind energy coming from the segment called "medium wind" and includes between 250-500kW producing turbines.  To encourage the development of medium-scale (250-500kW) wind turbines the Department would like assistance from a consultant to locate 2-3 sites within Tompkins County and having landowners willing to collaborate on developing.


              Mr. Sigler was concerned about data currently collected not being available to installers.  Ms. Borgella stated the wind map currently being used shows 5.25 meters per second or faster is considered feasible for "medium wind".  Ms. Borgella stated if the information currently on-hand for wind is not sufficient then that is something that we need to know now and hopefully that would be discovered with a consultant doing this work.  Mr. Marx said there may be a few other farms that may be interested in exploring this further.


              It was MOVED by Mr. McKenna, seconded by Ms. Kiefer, and unanimously adopted by voice vote, to authorize the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability to proceed with the RFP and to award the contract to seek consulting, engineering, and customer relations services to identify 2-3 sites in Tompkins County with appropriate wind resources and landowners willing to collaborate on developing the information needed to apply for NYSERDA Small Wind Turbine Program funding, or other appropriate funding sources to purchase and install a medium-scale (250-500kW) turbine.

* * * * * * * * *


Resolution No. - Authorization to Proceed with Tompkins County Forest Management Services RFQ as Proposed (ID #7196)

              Mr. Doyle stated the County has about 550 acres of forest land falling under the Tompkins County Forest Management Plan made up of 34 distinct stands, largely in the Town of Newfield, with different recommendations on the various sites.  The Department is recommending a Forester to assist and implement those recommendations in accordance with the Plan. 


              Mr. Sigler inquired if there was any help from New York State doing this type of work.  Mr. Doyle said historically the State did do this but does not anymore and only provides guidance. 


              Ms. Robertson remembers the development of the Plan in 2007 and also remembers the difficult time the County had to find someone to do this.  Mr. Doyle explained that he has had conversations with local resources in forestry and believes there is interest and they will be able to find a contractor. 


              Mr. Marx explained that the County acquired the land when there were buy outs of farms 1920’s through the 1940’s and some of the land ownership went to the State Forrest and other land was transferred to the County.  The law provides that the County must manage the land for forest management purposes and is not able to sell it. 


              Ms. Kiefer stated mature trees assist in sequestering carbon and asked if the harvesting mature trees works against carbon reductions.  Mr. Doyle does not believe this will have an impact on carbon and explained that the recommendations in the Plan are guided towards encouragement of more native hardwoods.  He said a healthy forest is a better performing forest and sequestration is a part of that.  Ms. Robertson compared the recommendations that include harvesting to pruning a garden and stated this is part of forest sustainability.  Mr. Marx spoke of proper forest management encouraging new growth and the new growth will sequester carbon faster than the older growth.


              It was MOVED by Ms. Chock, seconded by Mr. Sigler, to authorize the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability to proceed with the RFP and to award the contract to a forestry firm or independent, Certified Forester, to help update recommended harvest information and provide forestry services related to timber harvest on County Forest stands in the Town of Newfield according to the standards and timelines outlined in the Tompkins County Forest Management Plan (2007).


A voice vote on the motion resulted as follows:  Ayes - 4 (Legislators Chock, McKenna, Robertson, and Sigler); No - 1 (Legislator Kiefer).  MOTION CARRIED.

* * * * * * * * *


Discussion regarding Potential Tompkins County Membership in Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board (STERPDB) (ID #7194)

              Mr. Marx explained that there is a potential for Tompkins County to be a member of the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board (STERPDB) as there have been discussions when different organizations apply for funding in the Appalachian Regional Commission periodically.  Tompkins County has not been a member for 20 years plus and this year the Commission is requesting a letter of support from a member County to be included with grant applications.  During conversations with the Regional Planning Board and the Department of State the issue of membership was brought up and the fact that Tompkins County should reconsider its membership to the STERPDB.  There have been leadership changes on the Board and Mr. Marx felt it was prudent to discuss this with staff, the Planning Advisory Board, and the Committee in order to be more engaged in regional discussions, potential say in the direction of the new leadership, and perhaps gains in the Appalachian Regional Commission grant consideration. 


              Membership to the STERPDB requires an annual cash contribution of $10,000, a in-kind contribution of documenting of approximately $100,000 worth of work the Department completes that would otherwise be done by a regional agency that can be documented, and a contribution of a lesser amount from an Economic Development agency such as TCAD, doing some work.  Membership on the Board includes the Commissioner of Planning or a designee, the Economic Development agency, and a Legislator or an appointee of the Legislature. 


              The STERPDB has offered to include Tompkins County for the Appalachian Regional Commission grant application reviews.  The applications are typically reviewed by the Planning Commissioners of member counties and if Tompkins County expresses intent to rejoin the Board formally in 2018 they can be included in that application review process.  Planning Department staff and the Planning Advisory Board recommend becoming a member and Tompkins County is the only county in the region that is not a member.  He explained the four applications submitted from Tompkins County that would be included in this review. 


              Mr. Marx stated the Board Chair and the Director would be willing to come speak to the Committee later in the fall.  Ms. Robertson agreed to have them attend.


              It was MOVED by Mr. McKenna, seconded by Mr. Sigler, and unanimously approved by a show of hands, to move forward and have representatives from the STERPDB meet with Tompkins County and following that meeting plan accordingly through the budget process.

* * * * * * * * *


Resolution No. - Budget Adjustment and Appropriation of Unspent Funds from 2016 and Prior Years to Various Accounts of Departments that Report to the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee (ID #7188)

              Mr. Marx explained the rollover request would be used to make renovations to the basement area to provide additional meeting space for the Planning and Sustainability Department.  In addition, this includes the purchase of office furnishings that will allow the Department to reorganize the office space and use it more effectively.  The work is to be completed by the Facilities Department and Mr. Marx has already spoken with them about the work.


MOVER:              Carol Chock, Member

SECONDER:              Michael Sigler, Member

AYES:              Robertson, Kiefer, Sigler, McKenna, Chock

WHEREAS, Section 4.06 of Tompkins County Fiscal Policy on “Re-appropriation (Carryover or Rollover)” authorizes County Department Heads to “request re-appropriation of unspent funds from the previous year, provided that they are certified by the Director of Finance to be available and provided that this re-appropriation is authorized by the established appropriation procedures of the Legislature,” and


WHEREAS, various departments have been certified by the Director of Finance to have available unspent appropriations and excess revenues from 2016 totaling $698,168, which, combined with balances from prior years, results in an available rollover balance of $1,135,477 on the County’s books as of December 31, 2016, and


WHEREAS, pursuant to County Fiscal Policy, surplus funds have been requested for use by departments that report to the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee in the amount of $59,250 in the current year budget, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality and the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committees, That the following transactions are approved:





General Fund Balance










Requested  Rollover


Use of Funds


Planning & Sustainability




Office Space Improvements, furnishings




Office Space Improvements, for Facilities for building renovations




Computer Replacement (2)








* * * * * * * * *


Report on Planning and Sustainability Dept. budget submission (ID #7193)

              Mr. Marx explained there were several over-target-requests (OTR) included in the submission of the 2018 Departmental Budget including a change in the Business Energy Navigator Plan, a Housing Planner position, Natural Scenic and Recreational Resource Protection fund, Energy Program funding, Housing Strategy implementation, continued updates through the Environmental Management Council, and increase in costs for the Community Science Institute.  Mr. Marx stated the budget is within the target and there is nothing remarkably different in this budget. 

* * * * * * * * *


Commissioner's Report (ID #7195)

              Mr. Marx provided a brief report on the following:


·              Meeting with Indian Creek Neighborhood Association regarding Harris B. Dates property options - Mr. Marx said the property has been listed for sale for a period of time and came off the market two months ago.  He met with the County Administrator to discuss other options rather than relisting it.  To address the concerns raised by the neighbors including too much development, increase in traffic, and the natural value of the property, etc., a meeting was arranged and the members of the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association were invited to discuss the following options:  a smaller footprint of a multi-family dwelling, a solar project, and moving development rights from County property to the adjoining landowner’s property that would allow more units to be built on the land that is open fields.  These options were reviewed with the Town of Ithaca prior to this meeting and they believe any of the options would be workable.  The neighbors present at the meeting did not believe any of the developments on the site were desirable.  There was some acceptance for the idea of doing an off-site development that would allow more development than what the current zoning requirements allow.  This action would be subject to transferring development rights from the County property to the adjoining neighbors. 


              Mr. Marx described the property being considered and the area of properties of the neighbors to which development rights would be transferred.  This would allow for an approximate 50-unit neighborhood on an 11-acre site.  It would be proposed as single-family senior-living ownership housing with home-owners association fees to provide on-site amenities.  This proposal would require finding a developer who would be interested in purchasing all of the property, request the Town of Ithaca to transfer the development rights, and pledge to retain a conservation easement on the County’s parcel. 


·              Business Energy Navigator Program/Clean Energy Community Grant status - Mr. Marx stated the Department is waiting on a response for possible grant funding to assist with the Energy Navigator position.  


·              Annual Report- Mr. Marx explained that the 2016 Annual Report should be completed next week.  The report includes a large number of Comprehensive Plan actions accomplished. 


Ms. Kiefer asked if Mr. Marx has been able to follow-up on the dredging spoils location activity by the City of Ithaca.  Mr. Marx stated he has not but will look into it and let her know. 


Ms. Chock inquired about the harmful algal blooms that have been found in the Lake.  Mr. Marx explained that the blooms are not treatable but rather there is a need to research this and find the cause.  There were blooms last year but they are worse this year and there have been changes in weather patterns and climate, agriculture run-off, and lake chemistry due to the invasive species.  Mr. Marx said clearly there is something going on and it is a problem.  He suggested reviewing the Natural Infrastructure Program that includes information regarding stream buffers, wetland protection, construction to buffer run-off, and more natural buffers to mitigate run-off and see if there is anything that can be done. 


Ms. Kiefer suggested a crack-down on failing septic systems near the Lake by the Health Department as this could be a possible cause. 

* * * * * * * * *

Minutes Approval

June 20, 2017


MOVER:              Dooley Kiefer, Vice Chair

SECONDER:              Michael Sigler, Member

AYES:              Robertson, Kiefer, Sigler, McKenna, Chock


June 29, 2017

RESULT:              DEFERRED

Chair's Report

              Ms. Robertson reported that she attended the Village of Trumansburg Planning Board meeting last week and spoke in favor of the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) Hamilton Square project that includes various housing programs. 


              New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) has formally applied to the Public Service Commission to have a compressor solution for the Lansing Reliability Gas Service project to be a demonstration.  If the application is approved they plan to send out a request for proposal (RFP) for non-pipe alternatives.  A public comment period is open until September 25th and the next Public Service Commission meeting is October 19th.  Ms. Robertson along with Irene Weiser, Ken Schlather, Katie Borgella, and Burt Bland are attending a meeting on August 31st to meet with the new Public Service Commission Chair, John Rhodes, and Peter Olmstead of the Governor’s Office in Albany, to update then on the project. 


              Ms. Robertson thanked Mr. Marx for his years of service to the County and congratulated him on his upcoming retirement.  She stated he will be missed by many in County Government as well as members of the community.  The leadership, energy, and vision Mr. Marx has had the past 15 years has helped shape the community.  Committee members expressed they were in agreement with Ms. Robertson.  Ms. Chock added that the staff in the Department is able to take on projects and report back to the Legislature so well and she attributes that to the ability Mr. Marx has to mentor his staff.  Mr. Marx stated the staff bring a great deal with them and have made his job a lot easier over the years. 


              The meeting adjourned at 5:23 p.m.