Albany, NY...This week, the New York State Senate passed a bill introduced by Senator Jen Metzger to allow Ulster County communities to raise funds for preserving open spaces, unique ecological areas, agricultural lands, and historic places. The companion bill in the Assembly has been introduced by Assembly Member Kevin Cahill.
Adding Ulster County to the 2007 Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act gives Ulster County towns and villages the option enjoyed by municipalities in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties to establish Community Preservation Fund through a modest real estate transfer tax--a tool to help municipalities finance conservation and better manage development, keep down local taxes, and preserve their natural resources. The legislation requires that local governments interested in establishing such a fund first obtain the support of voters through a public referendum.
The Ulster County Legislature's Economic Development Committee unanimously passed a home rule resolution to be included in the Community Preservation Act. The resolution will go to the full county legislature later this month, where it is expected to pass.
“Having worked at the local level in Ulster County for many years to protect open space and support our local farms, I am thrilled to be able to partner with Assembly Member Cahill to expand the tools available to local governments for this purpose," said Senator Metzger. "We are blessed in Ulster County with diverse natural, ecological and recreational resources and a rich mosaic of family farms. We want to support local stewardship efforts that will protect these resources and keep farmland in production for generations to come."
“Community Preservation Funds allow participating municipalities to ensure a healthy, prosperous future for all residents by offering an effective and fair way to enhance water quality, conserve productive farmland, create new parks and revitalize historic structures—all of which, in turn, attract outside investment,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy Andy Bicking. “We’re so grateful for the leadership of Senator Jen Metzger in advancing this long-sought policy, and we look forward to working with cities and towns interested in establishing their own Community Preservation Funds.”
“Enabling municipalities to adopt local funding measures by seeking voter approval, can generate targeted funds for land conservation. This is an important way to protect parks, farmland and cultural sites that are precious to municipalities while fostering balanced growth and community preservation,” said Glenn Hoagland, President of Mohonk Preserve, which operates in five Ulster County towns.
"The Community Preservation Act not only expands vital support for open space" stated Christie DeBoer, Executive Director of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust which serves eight towns in Ulster County, "but it also increases opportunities for collaboration and partnership, which is critical for future generations."
Jen Metzger represents the 42nd Senate District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Senator Metzger serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Environmental Conservation, Education, Health, Energy and Telecommunications, Local Government, Women’s Issues, Domestic Animal Welfare, and Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Committees.