Our Green New Deal

To the Editor:
Chester’s Comprehensive Plan was developed by input from Chester residents in 2015 and calls for more open space. One of the ways that local towns have successfully preserved open space is through the PDR, or Purchase of Development Rights, program.
Currently there are two bills in Albany that seeks to develop a PDR program in Chester. These two bills would have to be approved in Albany so that Chester could put the PDR program on the local ballot this fall. The PDR program would require that buyers of any property within Chester to pay a fee which would go towards the purchase of land to be maintained as open space in perpetuity.
What’s holding these bills up from passing is the fact that the Senate bill S05640 sponsored by Senator Skoufis states that this bill would be in effect for 10 years only. What’s troubling is that when James Skoufis was our Assemblyman, he sponsored a similar bill for 20 years. Why the change of heart James?
Bill A07592 sponsored by Assemblyman Schmitt seeks to have the bill expire in 20 years. Neither of these bills can move forward unless the two chambers have a bill with same language and same expiration dates! Open space advocates want it to last for 20 years in the very least. Town officials including, Supervisor Bob Valentine, want a program that is sustainable for the long haul — not 10 years. If this issue is not resolved immediately, this worthy program cannot be realized until June 2020 at the earliest, and even then it still has to get on the local ballot and be approved by Chester voters. The 10- or 20-year clock starts ticking 90 days after Albany’s approval reinforcing the need for the expiration to be in 20 years at the very least.
If you appreciate the need for open space to be preserved in Chester, please call and or email Senator James Skoufis and let him know that we want him to have his bill expire in 20 years and not in 10 years. Senator Skoufis’s local number is 567-1270.
Sheila Kern