Chester requests speed limit reduction for Surrey Meadows

Chester. Board members weigh using home sale revenue for open space.

| 14 May 2024 | 03:38

The town of Chester is asking the state DOT to reduce speed limits at the Surrey Meadows housing complex from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

The resolution passed 5-0 at the May 8 Chester Town Board meeting. Other measures being sought to improve safety at the housing development include five new stop signs, road signs warning of children with disabilities, and increased police enforcement from the hours of 3 to 7 p.m. “That is a full court press as to what we’re doing,” Supervisor Brandon Holdridge said.

Open space

The board also discussed a resolution supporting a state law [S4751/A5211] to allow 1% of home sales over $100,000 to be put into a community preservation fund aimed at purchasing open space. Warwick has a similar law, but so far Chester’s law has been vetoed by the governor multiple times. The law, if passed, would allow for a local referendum on the matter.

Councilman Larry Dysinger said he is against the law because it represents an additional tax and expense for doing business in Chester. However, he voted to support the resolution, along with the rest of the board, because it is only to set up a public referendum on the matter. Holdridge assured Dysinger that the vast majority of the public is behind the new tax.

Town requests

The board approved three home rule requests to the state government. The town board is asking for the right to impose a new hotel and motel tax aimed at getting short-term rentals like Airbnb to “pay their fair share,” which Holdridge said they are currently not doing.

The town also asked the state to exempt the comptroller and building inspector positions from residency requirements in the town or county and asked to authorize police officer Lee Weinstein to receive retirement credits; which, due to a loophole, he had not qualified for.

Fund reallocation

With the cancellation of summer camp due to lack of attendance, the board voted to reallocate $49,250 in funds. Knapp’s View debt principal will receive $9,730.65, the supervisor’s contractual expense account will receive $9,730.65, and the town board expense account will receive $7,500, with the rest of money being returned to the general fund balance.

On the topic of Knapp’s View, the board pledged to be more careful about its mowing schedule of the park, safeguarding the habitat of rare birds that nest in the area. Local environmentalist and historian Jay Westerveld had made the request, and also offered to place a graphic about the birds at Knapp’s View.

Sugar Loaf bumps

Speed bumps have been bumped from the future of Sugar Loaf’s “downtown” area but longer sidewalks remain in play. The board fielded a question from business owner Ed Mullins about the recent proposal for speed bumps, but Holdridge said due to public feedback the bumps had been eliminated from the conversation. A survey will soon be underway looking at options for longer sidewalks in the hamlet, Holdridge announced.


The board voted to create a special meeting for a public hearing about the town’s Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] request. Holdridge wanted to make the hearing at the next board meeting (May 22), but Town Clerk Linda Zappala said that would not leave enough time to advertise the hearing. Holdridge did not want to wait until the regularly scheduled June 5 meeting because he felt that was too close to the CDBG deadline, so the board resolved to hold a special meeting on May 29 at 7 p.m.

Holdridge said the town’s request is focusing on ADA compliance improvements at Carpenter Park, contrary to his previous comment at a town board meeting in which he said they would ask for money for the SLPAC like they did last year. The request from last year was rejected because the town submitted contradicting documents.

Other business

The board approved its first-ever investment in cyber security. For $8,469.88 with a $5,000 deductible, the town’s PCs and servers will be insured against cyber attacks and malfunctions. Also, the Highway Department’s request to auction four used trucks from its fleet was approved by the board.

The board approved Music for Humanity to sell raffle tickets at town-sponsored events at the SLPAC, passed a standard workday resolution for town officials that will be posted on the town website, and passed a change in the code for the Conservation Advisory Council stating that persons under 18 cannot hold voting seats on the nine-person council.

The board voted to hire Colin Halpin as seasonal park attendant at $15 per hour. He was the only applicant and has previous experience working for the town parks.

Councilman Dysinger said he is still waiting to hear feedback about the filling of land ordinance and the soil removal ordinance the town is exploring. He reiterated his belief that “every single town employee needs to have a job description” and complained that more than one town pick-up truck was falling apart due to lack of maintenance.

Councilman Tom Becker said the adapter for the Sugar Loaf well has been acquired and will be installed within three weeks. He also said work on the Town Hall basement bathrooms has begun.