Residents quiz county supes about their role in Jeff housing project

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

Residents living near St. Joseph Catholic Church protested the building of a four-plex in their neighborhood at the county board of supervisors meeting on July 29. Phyliss Crowder said, “We don’t think it’s the right site.” Residents cited fears of traffic congestion in an old, established, quiet neighborhood.

Previously on May 13, supervisors heard a presentation by Rowland Construction describing a four-plex project in Jefferson. At the board meeting on June 3, the board approved $30,000 in funding to Greene County Development Corporation for the purpose of buying land, which GCDC would then give to Rowland for development. There were several possible locations for the four-plex, but land near St. Joseph was mentioned specifically.

Resident Paul Richardson said he was “opposed to the location but not to the (idea of) housing.” He asked about the relationship of the board of supervisors to GCDC. The board said they were involved in funding only and not in the choice of location for the housing project.

County attorney Thomas Laehn said GCDC is a private entity buying land from another private entity.

When asked by a resident about the board’s process for “ensuring due process” and involving residents in decisions, chair John Muir said the board’s responsibility was limited to “trusting that they (GCDC) had a good project.” Beyond that, the details of the development are the responsibility of the city.

Muir stated the $30,000 in county funds originated from $20,000 in general funds and $10,000 from Dreyfus funds. As stated at previous board meetings, the board’s justification for giving money to GCDC was a need for housing in the county and Rowland Construction’s interest in expanding housing projects into other communities of the county.

Residents spoke of dissatisfaction with the city’s handling of the project. “Plans were made before the public hearing was held,” said Lisa Richardson. The city council waived the second and third readings of the proposal in order to fast-track the project and residents believe decisions were made too quickly with little public input.

The Jefferson city council waived the second and third readings of an ordinance changing zoning to allow the construction of four-plexes east of Paul Nally Park. Developer Andy Rowland wants to have tenants in before winter, so wasted no time in starting to move dirt. |GCNO photo by Janice Harbaugh

In other business, engineer Wade Weiss reported slow progress in graveling every road in the county this summer. “It’s been an extreme year,” he said. Gravelling should be completed in August and September.

County sheriff Jack Williams submitted the quarterly sheriff’s report to the board. The board considered a resolution for the adoption of an agreement between the city of Jefferson and the county wherein the city would pay $25,000 yearly for dispatching services currently provided for free by the county. The resolution passed with supervisor Tom Contner dissenting. He said, “At one time, more money had been discussed, enough to pay one dispatcher for a year.”

Laehn reported involvement in several trials including violation of no-contact orders, stalking, and sex abuse. “I have great faith in our juries,” he said.

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