Demand for apartments hit a high not seen in five years as a shortage of affordable homes has locked an increasing number of Americans out of the market.
According to recent data from RealPage, the national occupancy rate rose to 95.8% from 95.4% last year.
The increase in demand has sent rental prices upward, causing them to rise 3% from the same time last year.
Rental price increases varied across cities, with Las Vegas and Phoenix posting the greatest gains at 8.8% and 8.1%, respectively.
Of the cities that saw the most leasing activity, the Dallas-Fort Worth area takes the cake, with renters moving into 10,443 units in the second quarter of 2019, RealPage revealed.
“Apartment leasing activity accelerates during the warmer weather months, and demand is proving especially strong in this year’s primary leasing season,” according to RealPage chief economist Greg Willett.
“Solid economic growth is encouraging new household formation, and rentals are capturing a sizable share of the resulting housing demand,” Wlillet continued. “At the same time, loss of existing renters to home purchase remains limited relative to historical levels.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average monthly residential electricity bill in the U.S. stood at $111.67 in 2017. Electricity is one of the biggest household expenses, as it accounted for 55 percent of total utility costs and 9 percent of total housing costs in 2017, according to the American Housing Survey (AHS).
The average monthly residential electricity bill varies widely across states (Figure 1). Hawaii had the highest average monthly electricity bill at $149, while New Mexico had the lowest ($79). Behind Hawaii, states in the Southeast region generally had higher electricity bills, including Alabama ($143) and South Carolina ($141). States contiguous to New Mexico — Colorado and Utah — also had low electricity bills (both at $82).
Electricity bills are a function of price and consumption. The average monthly retail price of electricity was $12.89 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2017. At $29.50 cents/kWh, Hawaii had the highest retail price. Other states with high electricity prices include Alaska, states in New England, and California. Washington State had the lowest electricity price among the states, followed by Louisiana, and Idaho (Figure 2).
High residential electricity bills in Hawaii are driven almost entirely by price as its residents, on average, consume the least amount of electricity among the states. The island lacks natural resources and relies on costly imports of petroleum to meets its needs, thus driving up its retail price. New England also lacks natural resources: unlike most parts of the country, it does not have natural gas reserves, nor does it have a solid network of gas pipelines. New England residents pay 50 percent more ($19.41 c/kWh) than the typical US resident ($12.89 c/kWh). It is important to note that in many states, regulatory environments, aging and inefficient infrastructure, and policies discouraging carbon-emitting fuels in favor of renewable energy also impact electricity supply and price.
Figure 2: Top Ten States with Highest (Lowest) Average Monthly Electricity Price (cents/kWh)
States with Highest Electricity Retail Price
States with Lowest Electricity Retail Price
Hawaii (29.50 ¢/kWh)
Washington (9.66 ¢/kWh)
Alaska (21.27 ¢/kWh)
Louisiana (9.74 ¢/kWh)
Connecticut (20.29 ¢/kWh)
Idaho (10.04 ¢/kWh)
Massachusetts (20.06 ¢/kWh)
Arkansas (10.28 ¢/kWh)
New Hampshire (19.21 ¢/kWh)
North Dakota (10.29 ¢/kWh)
Rhode Island (18.32 ¢/kWh)
Oklahoma (10.61 ¢/kWh)
California (18.31 ¢/kWh)
Oregon (10.66 ¢/kWh)
New York (18.03 ¢/kWh)
Tennessee (10.72 ¢/kWh)
Vermont (17.68 ¢/kWh)
Kentucky (10.85 ¢/kWh)
Maine (15.97 ¢/kWh)
North Carolina (10.94 ¢/kWh)
Nationwide, average monthly consumption of electricity stood at 867 kWh in 2017. States in the Southeast region of the country had the highest average monthly residential consumption rates. Louisiana had the highest rate at 1,187 kWh, followed by Tennessee (1,150 kWh), and Alabama (1,136 kWh). States with the lowest consumption rates include Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, California, and New York (Figure 3).
Residential electricity consumption is generally higher in the Southeast region because of high demand for air-conditioning to combat hot and humid summer weather. Although the Southeast has moderate winters, it still consumes a measurable amount of electricity during this season because of the widespread use of heat pumps to generate heat. Colder regions of the country, like the Northeast and Midwest, typically use oil- or gas-burning furnaces to heat homes. States with lower rates of electricity consumption are in regions with mild summers, such as New England. It is also important to point out that some states, such as California for example, have robust energy efficiency programs that help to reduce electricity consumption.
Figure 3: Top Ten States with Highest (Lowest) Average Monthly Electricity Consumption (kWh)
States with Highest Electricity Consumption
States with Lowest Electricity Consumption
Louisiana (1186.81 kWh)
Hawaii (506.15 kWh)
Tennessee (1149.83 kWh)
Vermont (537.57 kWh)
Alabama (1136.20 kWh)
Maine (546.13 kWh)
Mississippi (1131.63 kWh)
California (554.33 kWh)
Texas (1112.00 kWh)
New York (572.48 kWh)
Florida (1089.35 kWh)
Rhode Island (577.31 kWh)
South Carolina (1081.66 kWh)
Massachusetts (582.57 kWh)
Virginia (1078.47 kWh)
New Hampshire (598.56 kWh)
North Dakota (1062.94 kWh)
Alaska (600.97 kWh)
Georgia (1062.21 kWh)
New Mexico (614.66 kWh)
Just as geography is an important factor impacting electricity costs, so is the age of the housing stock. NAHB analysis shows that newer homes are more energy efficient on a square foot basis than existing homes. For example, single-family detached homes built prior to 1950 consume 135.4 BTUs/square foot, compared to 100.1 BTUs/square foot among single-family detached homes built between 2000 and 2009. Builders are continually incorporating new technologies into the homes they build, such as better insulation and energy efficient appliances, that help to reduce energy costs for households.
The societal ramifications of state-legalized marijuana — a $10.4-billion industry — are being hashed out, study by study. And home values are one of the effects under scrutiny.
The link between real estate prices and weed might not be readily apparent, until one considers the en vogue vibe of licensed retail pot shops. Some are so slickly upscale-minimalist they sell branded yoga mats and Obama Kush, a Cannabis indica strain that “channels the president’s famous message of ‘change’ as it invigorates and inspires.”
Your favored budtender can set you up, and she might even offer hope: Lucrative legal weed does indeed seem to bake premium bucks into the worth of your home.
The most thorough study found that legalizing retail marijuana in Colorado increased housing values by about 6%, or $15,600 a property. Among all the factors contributing to home price increases, that accounted for about 27% of overall appreciation in municipalities that adopted legal cannabis from 2010 to 2015, according to the University of Mississippi study, published last year in Economic Inquiry.
“Our result is quite robust,” the study’s coauthor, Cheng Cheng, said in a written response to questions. “This result remains robust when we account for the impact of other common housing value determinants (e.g., housing characteristics and demographics) and of the regulation of medical marijuana.”
And the effect was still evident when they compared different municipalities within metropolitan areas, said Cheng, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Mississippi. He used a variety of data sources — including tax assessors, county records, the U.S. Census Bureau and the MLS — to arrive at his conclusions.
Colorado approved marijuana for recreational use in 2012. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, and voters approved recreational use in 2016. Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, classified as a Schedule 1 drug, along with others considered ripe for abuse, such as heroin and LSD.
Cheng posits that property values get a contact high from retail marijuana because home buyers, entrepreneurs and job seekers who flood a newly legal marketplace create “unprecedented business and employment opportunities.” They’re also sparking demand within a fixed housing inventory. And he added that an injection of new tax revenue means neighborhood amenities can be upgraded, likely enticing homeowners to stay put while driving prices upward.
Other sleuths have sliced and diced Zillow’s vast real estate data to arrive at similar findings — a process that’s now relatively easy given advances in text-mining software.
Home values immediately increased once voters approved legal cannabis, long before retail shops opened, according to a Zillow analysis run by St. Louis-based Clever Real Estate, an agent referral network. The firm examined data from 2017 to 2019 in all U.S. cities.
Those that legalized recreational marijuana saw home values increase $6,337 more than in cities where pot is illegal, the study found, after controlling for population, initial home values, GDP and other variables.
“There’s an immediate bump right after legalization because investors see opportunities to go into those markets; they bring more job seekers,” said Thomas O’Shaughnessy, Clever’s head of research. A 2018 Cato Institute study observed findings similar to those unearthed by Cheng and Clever.
Cities that approved marijuana only for medical use did not experience the same value jolt as those where recreational weed is available. Instead, home prices increased at rates comparable to those in cities where all marijuana is illegal.
So it appears the commercial sale of cannabis is what stimulates home values. Washington, D.C., legalized cannabis for recreational and medical use in 2014 but barred commercial sales. Lack of a regulated citywide pot market “resulted in slower growth for the D.C. area compared to the national average,” author Luke Babich wrote in the Clever study.
Without that cash flow (sales of buds, edibles, extracts, tinctures, vape pens, branded yoga mats…), “money won’t flow back into the market and housing prices won’t respond over the long term,” Babich wrote.
Following California’s voter approval of cannabis in November 2016, “San Jose saw its sharpest historical two-year increase in home values” in two decades, a $303,200 hike, Babich noted. Of course, that entire $300K can’t be attributed to legal weed, said O’Shaughnessy, especially given Silicon Valley’s blistering housing market.
Still, (borrowing from that “Obama Kush sales copy) such increases no doubt induce a “euphoric rush” as well as some “cerebral stimulation” — at least for homeowners. For home buyers, news of pot-induced price hikes are probably a serious buzzkill.
Approximately 55,000 children could be evicted from public housing if the Department of Housing and Urban Development goes through with a proposed plan to end public housing aid for undocumented immigrants, HUD revealed in a report on the rule change’s potential impact.
Last month, HUD proposed a rule that would make undocumented immigrants ineligible for public housing aid and force them to relocate within 18 months.
The rule proposes the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, or SAVE program, to verify the citizenship of all members living in a household that receives assistance.
Under HUD’s current rules, families are allowed to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible as long the ineligible person declares themselves as as such. The housing subsidy is then prorated to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance.
But HUD’s new rules closes that “loophole.”
HUD officially proposed changed those rules Friday, publishing the text of the rule in the Federal Register.
As part of the rulemaking process, HUD also issued a report on the potential impact of the rule change.
According to the report , the Trump administration plan to pull public housing aid could lead the removal of 55,000 children from public housing, putting them at risk of homelessness.
Overall, as many as 25,000 households would be affected by the rule change. According to HUD’s report, the vast majority of the potentially affected households (72%) come from three states – California (37%), Texas (23%), and New York (12%).
Beyond the direct impact on those households, who would be forced to find another place to live within 18 months, the rule change could also have the opposite effect of what the Trump administration claimed when initially floating the proposal.
“Thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership, we are putting America’s most vulnerable first. Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson tweeted when the public housing rule change was initially reported.
The idea, according to Carson, is to make more housing available to American citizens.
“We have a long list of people we can only serve right now one in four of the people who are looking for assistance from the government,” Carson told Fox Business on Thursday. “So obviously we want to get those people taken care of. And we also want to abide by the laws.”
But according to HUD’s own analysis of the proposed rule changes, the move could actually lead to less public housing aid being available because the “American” households replacing the “mixed” households make less money than the families they’d be replacing and would, therefore, require more housing assistance.
From the HUD report:
“An additional transfer of the rule results from the replacement households requiring a higher subsidy than the mixed households. This would occur because the households that replace mixed families, on average, have less income and would receive higher per household subsidies.”
The impact of that would lead to an increase of HUD’s budget of between $193 million and $227 million, meaning it would cost taxpayers as much as $227 million more to give public housing aid to the replacement households.
Another “likelier” scenario would be HUD choosing to serve those replacement households without additional resources or pulling money from other HUD programs.
But according to the HUD report, “perhaps the likeliest scenario” would be HUD reducing the quantity and quality of subsidized housing because of the higher costs, meaning there would less subsidized housing available in the first place and the ones that remained would be lower quality than before.
“With part of the budget being redirected to cover the increase in subsidy, there could be fewer households served under the housing choice vouchers program; while for public housing, this would have an impact on the quality of service, e.g., maintenance of the units and possibly deterioration of the units that could lead to vacancy,” HUD said in the report.
So instead of making more public housing available to those on the waiting list, the proposal could lead to the exact opposite happening.
From HUD’s report:
However, it is unlikely that this transfer would occur in the form of increased subsidies from taxpayers to the replacement households. Housing assistance is not an entitlement and the federal budget for housing is not expected to increase because of this rule. Instead, it is likely that the higher per household subsidies would be paid for by reducing average spending on housing assistance for all households. or reducing the number of households served. The number and quality of public housing units likely could decline as could any additional resident services provided by housing authorities.
Beyond all of that, Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggests that the “true motivation” of HUD’s rule changes is to instill fear into undocumented immigrants.
“HUD expects the fear of being separated would lead to a prompt evacuation by most mixed-status families, whether or not that fear is justified,” HUD states in a section on the report on the expected responses from the impacted households.
“The cruelty of Secretary Carson’s proposal is breathtaking, and the harm it would inflict on children, families and communities is severe,” Yentel said Friday in a statement. “Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless by this proposal, and – by HUD’s own admission – there would be zero benefit to families on waiting lists. This proposal is another in a long line of attempts by the administration to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country. We will not stand for it.”
Yentel was joined by more than two dozen housing, faith, civil rights, social justice, and immigration groups in denouncing the proposed rule changes.
HUD itself notes that there are less costly alternatives to the proposed rule change.
From the report:
The first alternative regulatory action would be to grandfather all of the existing mixed- families and apply the provisions of this proposed rule to new admissions only. The alternative would better target housing assistance. Gradually mixed-households would be replaced. For example, with a turnover rate of 10 percent, the number of mixed households would be halved within seven years. Such an option would fulfill the objectives of the rule but would limit the transition costs. A second would be to limit the denial of housing assistance to households for which the leaseholder is ineligible. There are approximately 17,000 households with ineligible noncitizen household heads who will be affected by this proposed rule and would no longer be the leaseholders. This would reduce the number of households affected from 25,000 to 17,000. Such an alternative would likely limit the adverse impact of the transition on eligible children.
According to HUD, the current average wait time for public housing assistance is more than two years.
To read the full HUD report on the impact of the rule change, click here.
Coming Up at the April 23 Town Board MeetingSunrise Katonah Proposed Resolution –Climate Change Action The Town Board will be hearing a presentation from Sunrise Katonah which has requested that the Town Board adopt a Climate Action resolution urging federal action to further goals to expand renewable power sources and reach a target of net-zero carbon emissions. The proposed resolution reflects the spirit of the Green Agenda, but without all of the specific items, a number of which are national in scope. The Board will be discussing the proposed resolution for the first time on April 23, and may find it preferable not to take immediate action on the proposed resolution. The Town of Bedford long has been a leader in environmental initiatives and in the coming months will be working with Bedford 2020 and the community in moving ahead on new goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Report from Bedford2020 ZERO WASTE CHALLENGE SHOWS POTENTIALFOR 70% RESIDENTIAL RECYCLINGOver the past year Bedford 2020 has developed and conducted a series of Zero Waste Challenge (ZWC) events with more than 80 interested families, 14 of whom participated in a six week waste and recyclables weighing program in October 2018. This Zero Waste Challenge was based on similar programs conducted in many other cities and towns, with the objective of quantifying in real terms what a group of typical residential families could recycle. The resulting ZWC Report with Summary Data from each participating family of 2,3, 4 and 5 person households found that a total of 65% waste reduction on average, with 39% Single Stream Recycling and 26% Compostables removed from total household material, leaving only 35% waste. After considering the wide variation in family data and the ease with which some families were able to exceed 70% total recycling/reduction, we believe that a 70% reduction goal is practical and achievable over time with your support and some more effort. The largest single additional waste reduction beyond present efforts would come as a result of removing compostable food waste.The ZWC also indicated a significant overall household material reduction, with participating ZWC families taking less material into their house, when compared with overall Town wide and State data for materials collected, suggesting that more awareness and attention to what we use and buy can significantly reduce our waste. The ZWC generated a lot of enthusiasm not only from participants but many others who attended the preliminary Trash Bash, and Bedford 2020 may consider another event in future. The program confirmed the viability and reasonableness of our recycling goals with real time data in Bedford and gives a positive direction for future efforts at waste reduction.The Zero Waste Challenge started with a Trash Bash demonstration event on October 13, 2018, where about 80 people came to understand what could be recycled or composted and how to reduce the materials that their family buys and uses. Fourteen families agreed to participate in the ZWC 6-week sort and weigh program. Participating families saw weighing and sorting demonstrations at the Trash Bash and took home a digital scale and bags for weekly weighing of materials. They received a plan for logging the numbers and useful tips on how to reduce waste and efficiently recycle and compost on a regular basis. The ZWC helped participants pay closer attention to waste and better understand how to reduce household materials (if not to zero, then as low as possible). Participants learned how to examine more carefully all of our daily habits that create waste.Bedford 2020 believes that removing food waste from homes and businesses, which if implemented town-wide would result in the largest single waste reduction (25%) and the ability to substantially achieve Town and State long term goals for waste reduction. I also note that in spite of the current difficulty being experienced nation-wide with recycling materials marketing, we have received assurance that our Single Stream recycling program is working well and all Bedford materials are effectively being marketed through the City Carting state-of-the-art MRF in Stamford. Waste reduction is the future. With your help we can provide education, inspire awareness and show how it can be done in every neighborhood, business and school in Bedford. We are approaching a tipping point where everyone is becoming aware that waste reduction is a personal daily responsibility, like brushing your teeth. For more information about the recycling or composting program visit http://bedford2020.org/waste-and-recycling-task-force/. Thank you for participating. -Peter Kuniholm
MEASLES INFORMATION We received this information from the Westchester County Department ofPublic Heath following reports of some cases of Measles in Northern Westchester:
Update on Parking The Town Board has been working steadily to improve parking availability and management: parking for residents in the commuter lots and parking for our businesses and their customers and patrons, primarily in the hamlet business districts. At the Town Board’s April 2 meeting, Town Comptroller and Director of the Town’s Parking Bureau, Abraham Zambrano provided the following update on the new since last year online system for resident parking permits in the commuter lots:The Town of Bedford manages and operates eight (8) commuter parking lots with a total of 1,149 parking spaces out of which 170 are metered and 979 are for permit holders. It’s been the Town’s policy to provide parking permits exclusively to town residents and businesses in the Hamlets of Bedford Hills and Katonah. Non-residents are only allowed to obtain permits for lot 3 on Woods Bridge Road. The management and the issuance of parking permit has been challenging over the years as the demand for commuter parking has increased. With the support of the Town Board, the implementation of a paperless permit system using Parkmobile’s and PCS’s License Plate Reading technology was possible in the spring of 2018; the new software requires that parking customers create an account and submit copies of vehicle registrations before the permit is issued. The new system went into effect on July 1, 2018, the beginning of the parking year. Keeping in mind that residents have always been able to buy permits for Lot 3 on Woods Bridge Road in Katonah, it is imperative to mention that as the result of the implementation of the new system, we have been able to reduce the number of residents on the wait list as well as the time they wait for a permit for the main lots in both Bedford Hills and Katonah by years. In June of 2016, for all lots, there were four hundred ninety six (496) residents on the wait list and the first person in line to get a permit for Lot 4, dated back to December 2011 and for Lot 1 that date was April 2012. As we continue to gather permit usage data, over the past 12 months, we have been able to reduce the number of residents on the list and the wait time. The current wait list numbers and times have been reduced to 248 and the dates are July 2016 and July 2017 respectively. In May, we will begin the implementation of the Pay-by-Phone system to accommodate daily parking needs and upgrades and signage work are being planned for Lot 7 & Lot RR on Railroad Avenue. The Town also is working with the Katonah Chamber of Commerce regarding parking enforcement as well as to review the Chamber’s recommendations and requests to ease the crunch of parking availability in the Katonah neighborhood business district. We similarly are working with the parking committee of the Bedford Village Business Association. We also remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement to acquire from the Bedford Presbyterian Church property off of Court Road for the development of a free municipal parking lot which would run behind the buildings fronting the Village Green.
Update on Bedford’s Single Stream Recycling Program About five years ago Bedford became the town in Northern Westchester to convert to single stream residential recycling both through our licensed carters as well as at the Town’s recycling center on Railroad Avenue in Bedford Hills. Single stream together with the effective community outreach of Bedford 2020 has resulted in significant increases in the Town’s residential recycling rates. Evidencing the success of these efforts, Westchester County presented Bedford an award last year for attaining the highest recycling rate in the County. The materials which are collected for recycling are sorted and processed at a state of the art single stream facility which City Carting operated in Stamford, Connecticut. City Carting, in response to the disruptions in recycling markets resulting from China’s no longer accepting many materials, has added capability and more sorters over the last year. While City is not enjoying the high sales prices for materials as it had two years ago, City Carting through an array of brokers working in world market continues sell such materials to be recycled or in a few cases pays for the disposal of materials. The Town of Bedford has modified its recycling flyer and no longer accepts film plastics or bags and a few other small items at City request, but we have found during our recent Zero Waste Challenge (ZWC) that we continue to collect and recycle over 95% of our prior list by weight. Bedford initiated a hauler quarterly reporting system five years ago which furnishes good data particularly for recycling in the residential sector. Town residents also are paying their carters a small recycling surcharge to enable the carters to continue the single stream program. While we are not certain about the future, City Carting has assured us that its sorting facility in Stamford is working well. City Carting plans to continue its participation in single stream and in fact expects the markets to improve as more countries and the US make plans to accept more efficiently materials which China previously accepted. City Carting indicates that with new equipment and more sorters it is able to maintain a low contamination rate and product marketability. We are encouraged by the continuing success of our Single Stream program, its convenience for residents and the assurance we offer that our efforts result in significant reductions in greenhouse gasses, conservation of material resources and continuing cost savings for reused materials. Please visit the Bedford 2020 web site athttp://bedford2020.org/waste-and-recycling-task-force/ for more information. Thank you for participating.
Update on Bond Sale and Savings Resulting fromHighest Credit RatingTown Comptroller Abraham Zambrano provides the following explanation of the bond sale concluded this week: On Monday April 1, 2019 S&P Global Ratings assigned its “AAA” rating to the Town of Bedford’s public improvement serial bond series 2019A and affirmed its “AAA” long-term rating on the Town’ general obligations outstanding debt. The assigned rating reflects the Town’s “strong management, with good financial policies and practices under” S&P’s Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology, strong budgetary performance and flexibility that has enabled the accumulation of surplus and strong reserves. According to S&P Global Ratings, the Town is considered to have “very strong liquidity” and has access to additional external resources. Upon receiving the 2019 bond rating, on Wednesday April 3, 2019 the Town sold $8,321,325 in bonds to finance the Town Board approved capital expenditures for 2018 and 2019. Based on the AAA rating assigned to the 2019 Bonds and the re-affirmation of the Town’s overall AAA rating, six investment firms submitted bids with TIC (True Interest Cost) rates that ranged from 2.578% to 2.395%; most lower bond rated municipalities typically only have two to three investing firms bidding on their bonds. Capital Markets Associates, the Town’s financial advisors provided the following after the sale. “The award of the bonds was made to the lowest bidder based on a calculation of the True Interest Cost (or the “TIC”). The TIC is essentially an average of the interest rates (or coupons) but also takes into account various other factors such as premium and the time value of money. For the Town recent Bond sale, FTN Financial Capital Markets was the lowest bidder at a TIC of 2.395%. The bid provided by FTN included coupons of 3.00% in each year the bonds will be outstanding. In addition, the bid included premium in the amount of $370,775.90. The premium represents additional money above the par amount of the bonds that will be provided at closing and then utilized by the Town to offset the cost of future year’s interest payments. Essentially at closing the Town will received the $8,321,325 it had request (the par amount of the bonds) + an additional $370,775.90 (the premium) to offset the cost of interest. Investors often bid premium in an effort to hedge their position on the bonds. The gross payment on the bonds is 3.00% which provides the investor(s) some flexibility in their ability to trade the bonds even if the markets move. For the Town, the premium payment creates a net cost of interest to ensure that they receive market rates as of the date the bonds priced.” Due to the Town’s AAA, the 2.395% (TIC) rate at which the 2019 bonds were issued, represent a substantial savings in comparison to municipalities that have lower ranges. Based on information provided by our financial advisors, recent bond issues by other municipalities in the area, with lower bond ratings, have issued bonds at rates between one half percent (0.50%) to three quarters of one percent (0.75%) higher than the rate that the Town sold its bonds; those higher interest rates represent between $350,000 to $525,000 a year in addition interest that the Town would not have to pay.
Additional hours for Beaver Dam Compost Facility As you may know, starting in January 2018, the Town Board increased the hours for resident access to the Beaver Dam Compost Facility, which processes the Town’s wood waste and leaves, and offers the opportunity for residents to drop off wood waste and leaves and pick up compost. There is no cost for residents’ use of these service.Extended hours areApril 13, 20, and 27 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PMMay 4 from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PMJune 1 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM With Spring clean-up and planting season here, you may find these services helpful. I encourage you to review the updated information by clicking on Beaver Dam Compost Facility on the Town’s website.
Update on Route 117 and Green Lane The Village of Mount Kisco, in conjunction with Con Ed, paved Green Lane on Wednesday 4/10. We thank them for completing this. Line striping will follow shortly. Work is moving forward to prepare for the paving of Route 117 south of Green Lane into Mount Kisco. Curb repair and replacement is scheduled to be completed by mid-May, with paving to occur once this is completed.
New Metro North SchedulesThe following message was sent to us fromMae Patel, Manager of Administration at Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Our new timetables effective April 14 on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines are designed to reflect more accurately how the railroad’s progressive infrastructure improvement plan affects train running times, resulting in more reliable, dependable and safe service for our customers. Most of our trains will have an adjusted schedule, anywhere from one minute, to in some cases such as the Connecticut branch lines, sixteen minutes. In designing this schedule, we took into account a busy infrastructure improvement schedule that includes upgrades to our infrastructure, continued Positive Train Control installation along our tracks and on our fleet, and the actual running times of trains. To learn how your train service is affected, you can also simply checkthe interactive scheduleon our schedules page or on ourTrainTime ® App to access the information directly on your phone. Click below for the updates to the schedules
KATONAH ART STROLLSaturday Evening April 274 to 8 pm Katonah is the place to be for inspiration! Immensely successful since its inception last April, the monthly Katonah Art Stroll returns to uplift and inspire. Live music, art demonstrations and refreshments throughout this idyllic Westchester town. Click here for more information.
Celebrate Earth DaySunday, April 2812 to 4pm
National Police Memorial Week Cub Pack 170 and the Bedford Boy Scoutsto honor Bedford Police Sgt. Thomas Wade April 27, 20193:00pm Bedford Police Station321 Bedford Rd. Bedford Hills
On Saturday April 27, 2019 at 3 p.m. Cub Scout Pack 170 , and Bedford Boy Scouts will recognize National Police Memorial week by honoring the memory of Bedford P.D. Sgt. Thomas Wade who made the ultimate sacrifice on May 9, 1925. The ceremony will feature the presentation of colors, lowering of US flag in Sgt. Wade’s memory, presentation of thank you cards to Police Officers by Scouts, police equipment , police antique cars ,and Police K-9 demonstration. Please join us
Highlights of the the April 2 Town Board Meeting Town of Bedford to Be Recognized for Fulfilling Gold Pledge – Zero Emission Vehicles
The New York League of Conservation Voters and Sustainable Westchester presented the Town with a Certificate of Recognition for achieving the Zero Emissions Vehicle Gold Pledge to purchase ZEVs for 10% of new light-duty fleet purchases by the end of 2020. NYLCV President Julie Tighe and Sustainable Westchester Executive Director Bob Elliot presented the Certificate and Ms. Tighe noted that Bedford was the first municipality in Westchester County to fulfill the pledge and did so a year and a half sooner than the challenge deadline. As I noted last week, the Town’s recent purchase of two 2019 Nissan Leafs enabled the Town to complete the Gold Pledge challenge following our purchase last year of an all-electric Chevy Bolt piggybacking a NYC contract.
April 1 Successful Launch of Plastic and Paper Bag Fee Following hard work on the part of the Reusable Bag Task Force in partnership with the grocery stores, Shoprite, DeCicco’s and Key Food, we find broad embrace of the program for a 10c fee on single use plastic or paper bags, with only a very small number of customers bristling at the new charges. We are still sorting out the new law to ban plastic bags adopted as part of the New York State budget which was adopted last week. Please note the following: It does not go into effect until March 2020 and until such time the Town’s law is in full force and effect.There is a provision to allow Counties and large cities to adopt a 5 cent fee on single use paper bags. We very much support such an action. It is unclear what the effect of such action would be for Bedford’s 10c fee and whether it would be pre-empted. You put the bags in your car, but did you bring them into the store?Grab your bags: Please be sure to put reusable bags into your car the next time you go shopping. Avoid the 10c fee for single use plastic or paper bags that goes into effect on April 1. We don’t want you to pay a dime!
New habits take time!Print out our itty bitty reminder tagand tape it to your cell phone, purse or in your car.
Board Tables Proposed Permit Requirementsfor Live Music & DJs Carrying over from the March 19 Town Board meeting, the Board held a public hearing on the proposal. The Board had received a petition requesting that the Board adopt the proposal. There were no members of the public who spoke at the hearing. The Board concluded that with the just adopted revisions to and clarification of the noise law (see below), the proposed permitting is not needed, because enforcement is far simpler and would be more effective. As such, the Board tabled the proposal, reserving the possibility of reviewing it further in work session at a later time.
Board Authorizes Issuance of Request for Proposal for Consultancy Services for Wireless Facilities The Board approved the recommendations of the Wireless Facilities Working Group for the issuance of an RFP for consultancy services, as presented by the advisory committee’s chairman, Joe Lombardo. The consultancy services will be to evaluate wireless communications needs of the Town, wireless facilities to meet such needs and where such facilities might be installed with the least impact on our residential neighborhoods. As mentioned, the Town needs expert advice from the Town’s own disinterested, objective and accurate consultant. The consultant also would serve the Planning Board in its review of the proposed cell tower on Hickory Lane and the proposed cell tower either at Petre Glass at 29 Haines Road or by the Town’s offices at 425 Cherry Street.
Board Appointments to Boards – Congratulations I am pleased to congratulate Michelle Petschak for their appointment to the Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee and Andrea Mishel Alarcon to the Leaf Blowers Task Force, respectively. We wish to thank them for their willingness to lend their time and talent in serving the community.
Update on Status of Town’s Septic System Repair and Replacement Program I reported last week in my monthly report that the Septic System Repair and Replacement Program is temporarily suspended pending clarification and discussions with Westchester County, which controls the funding for the program. I am working assiduously with the County to secure the next installment of funding under the program and obtain the clarifications needed to enable us to reinstate the program. For those with concerns and questions, our County Legislator Kitley Covill has been working with me on a solution and has graciously offered to discuss the matter should you have a specific project underway and are affected. Kindly contact her at 995-2810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vacancy on Tree Advisory Board The Town Board is accepting applications for a vacancy on the Tree Advisory Board. The Tree Advisory Board was established for the purpose of advising the Enforcement Officer, Building Inspector, Planning Board, Wetlands Control Commission, Town Board, Highway Department, Recreation Department and other agencies and offices of the Town on matters relating to the preservation, planting and removal of trees. The Board advises the Town on the health of trees, helps develop tree planting plans and plans and participates in Arbor Day activities. It is a 9-member board, with each member appointed to a 5-year term. The Board usually meets the 4th Thursday of the month at 425 Cherry Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room, in Bedford Hills. For the entire text of the Tree Preservation Ordinance, please go to General Code, Chapter 112. If you are interested in serving, please e-mail your resume with a cover letter to email@example.com. You also may mail it to me at Supervisor, 321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills, New York 10507.
Bedford Fire District – Proposed Fire HouseVote on Referendum Set As I mentioned previously, a number of Bedford Village residents have contacted me regarding the proposal of the Bedford Fire District to construct a new fire house off of South Brook Road and Old Post Road (a/k/a Route 22) in Bedford Village. At the outset I should explain that the Town’s attorneys have determined that the Town has no approval authority over the proposed firehouse project because the Bedford Fire District is a local government entity under New Y ork law. The Bedford Fire District has posted a substantial amount of information regarding the proposed fire house which can be accessed at www.bedfordfire.com. The New Fire House Committee invites the public to send questions regarding the project to NFC@bedfordfire.comor call (91 4) 205- 6341 which are both dedicated to the project. The Bond ReferendumTuesday April 306:00am-9:00pmBV Fire House34 Village Green Bedford Village
Amendments to Noise Law Adopted The Town Board held public hearings on proposed amendments to the Town Code which were developed with our Police Department, Code Enforcement personnel, Town Clerk and Town attorneys, Keane & Beane, to eliminate inconsistencies in sections of the Town Code relating to noise disturbance. There were actually three hearings, two of which deleted provisions in the Town Code and the third which adopted the new provisions. In addition to intending to eliminate the inconsistencies, we also want the noise law to be fair and equitable. Based on decisions of the Town Justice Court, we need to clarify provisions pertaining to dog barking. The revisions in the included limitations on exemptions to the noise law. The following are key provisions of the amendments: To address the inconsistencies, the proposed amendments eliminate the provisions which are difficult to enforce regarding unreasonable or excessive barking and what constitutes a noise violation, and has replaced them with revised provisions to define “Noise Disturbance” and identify specific activities that are prohibited and specific activities that are exempt from the noise regulations. For enforcement purposes, it requires either sworn affidavits from two separate persons in two separate residences, direct observation by the enforcement officer or official, or that the noise level exceeds certain decibel levels as measured with a sound metering device. The revisions continue to permit the use of a sound metering dev ice as an alternative method of enforcement and sets specific decibel levels that cannot be exceeded in residential and nonresidential zones during day time and nighttime hours. The provisions were simplified. The law identifies a number of noise making activities that are generally exempt from the noise regulations. However, there are limitations with respect to many of these exemptions. In addition, a general provision has been included that the exempt activities cannot exceed the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended exposure levels for occupational noise exposure.
Update on Repaving Route 117 Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and I met on Friday, March 22 with representatives of the New York State Department of Transportation, Consolidated Edison and the Village of Mount Kisco. By way of background, Consolidated Edison replaced a gas line along the length of Route 117 from the start of the business district in Bedford Hills south into Mount Kisco. The replacement required digging up Route 117. The work was not completed in time for repaving last Fall leaving the road surface in poor condition. The Village of Mount Kisco also had to replace water mains under Route 117. As Route 117 is a New York State road, NYSDOT regulates the work on the road and specifies necessary restoration. NY SDOT has previously mandated, and Con Ed agreed to comply with, curb to curb restoration of the portion of 117 disturbed by Con Ed as part of two NY SDOT highway work permits. I called the meeting to confirm the project scope and ensure that the project is undertaken as promptly as possible this Spring. The outcome of the meeting: Con Edison confirmed that the restoration would be curb to curb (rather than only the southbound lane) running from Green Lane south to a bit short of Barker Street in Mt. Kisco To minimize disruption to the businesses and those traveling Route 117 during the day, work would be carried out from 8 PM to 6 AM The target dates are as follows, all dependent upon weather conditions and sufficiently high temperature to ensure proper curing: -Curb replacement and restoration to commence by April 15-Completion of curb replacement by April 30-Repaving to commence first week of May-Repaving completion by mid-May. With the objective of keeping on target, I have scheduled another meeting for late April with the representatives of Con Edison, NYSDOT and the Village of Mt. Kisco and their engineers. I will continue to keep the community apprised.
Post Script on the Hack Into Town’s Website The good news: no one’s personal information was at risk and no damage was done to the Town’s website. As I mentioned last week, all financial transactions with the Town are handled by third party pay ment processors to which any one wishing to do business with the Town is digitally referred. No confidential data is stored on the digital files operating our website nor on the Town’s servers. While our website security previously was quite good, we are making it more robust (at very modest additional expense).
DON’T BE A CRIME VICTIMLock Your Car In the past week The Town of Bedford Police Department has seen a dramatic rise in complaints from residents of Katonah regarding larcenies from unlocked motor vehicles in their driveways during the overnight hours. We remind you to secure your vehicles and do not leave valuables in your car. Remember: “If you see something, say something.” The Bedford Police Department operates 24/7/365. Please call 914-241-3111 immediately when you observe suspicious activity.
Vacancy on Traffic Safety Working GroupThe Town Board is accepting applications for a vacancy on the Traffic Safety Working Group. In 2014 the Town Board established the Traffic Safety Working Group to advise the Town Board for the following purposes: Promote and encourage street and highway traffic safety Formulate street and highway safety programs and coordinate efforts of interested parties and agencies engaged in traffic safety education Study traffic conditions on streets and highways, study and analyze reports of accidents and causes thereof, and recommend to the appropriate legislative bodies, departments or commissions such changes as deemed advisable in rules, orders, regulations and physical changes to the roadway, signage and other components of the roadway system Conduct meetings on a regular basis and invite to such meetings parties and agencies, public and private, interested in traffic regulation, control and safety Promote safety education for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians Obtain and assemble motor vehicle accident data, and analyze, study and consolidate such data to evaluate potential changes to the roadway system and for educational and informational purposes Coordinate and direct local activities related to the implementation of the state highway safety program, as approved by the governor or his designee Make reports/recommendations to the Town Board as necessary Provide a sustained and systematic mechanism and clearing house for considering concerns about traffic safety
REMINDER FROM THE TAX ASSESSORS OFFICE:2019 Exemption Filing DeadlinesFor the 2019 Tentative Assessment Roll, the exemption filing deadline for all new or renewal exemption applications is May 1st 2019.Important Notice for Property Owners Age 65 and Over New STAR requirements for 2019 To receive the Enhanced STAR exemption, you must enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP). If you’re already enrolled in IVP, no action is needed If you qualify for the Low Income Senior Citizens exemption, you will no longer automatically receive the Enhanced STAR exemption. You must apply for Enhanced STAR separately For general information or questions on your existing exemptions, please contact the Town of Bedford Assessor’s office at (914)-666-5149 or emailAssessor@bedfordny.govAdditional information can be obtained at the New York State Department of Tax & Finance website at www.tax.ny.gov
Dirt Roads From time to time especially during spring thaw, some residents ask me why we don’t pave our dirt roads. There also is the mistaken assumption that dirt roads are more expensive than paved roads. I’d like to share with you some considerations. The Town owns and maintains 33 miles of dirt roads, which are part of the Town’s charm and rustic character. However, by their nature dirt roads provide a lesser level of service than a paved road The annual cost of regular maintenance of dirt roads is higher than that for paved roads, however, this comparison does not consider the cost of paving. We now spend $1.3 million each year on paving approximately eight miles of the Town’s 97 miles of paved roads. When factoring in paving costs, the cost of our dirt roads and paved roads is about equal The Town has a long standing policy to preserve and protect dirt roads as integral to the semirural character of Bedford. This policy is carried in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. “Strategy 8: Dirt Roads: It is the policy of the Town to avoid paving the existing dirt roads.”… “These roads sustain Bedford’s rural character and serve as an effective traffic calming technique.” It also is stated that the Town should “maintain dirt roads rather than pave them.” Many of the Town’s large estates which maintain horses front dirt roads. Dirt roads are gentler on horses’ feet than paved roads. Many horses do not have strong enough feet to withstand the pounding on hard roads. Paved roads can also aggravate hoof problems. Converting dirt roads to paved roads might lead to the disappearance of the horse farms and subdivision of the properties Even should the Town determine to change its policy, the cost of converting dirt roads to paved roads considerably exceeds the cost of our regular resurfacing of existing paved roads. Converting a road from dirt to asphalt would require drainage improvements and four to six inches of asphalt. In addition, regulations of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection would require that the Town secure a stormwater permit for paving more than one acre of dirt roads. Meeting the stormwater permit requirements may entail installing catch basins, filtering mechanism and other drainage systems to attenuate the velocity and run-off from paved surfaces. For these reasons, over the years the Town Board has not considered it appropriate to pave our dirt roads. As noted in last week’s newsletter, we recognize that winter wreaks the greatest havoc on our roads. This is most evident with the spring thaw and with it mud season, which is most damaging to our dirt roads. It’s typically one of the most challenging seasons for our crews in maintaining the dirt roads. The Town frequently maintains and inspects all our roads and the most in late winter and throughout the spring. We will be working as promptly as we can to restore our roads to good condition – though of course, if we are hit with a late season snow storm, snow removal operations will take precedence to provide safe travel. While we ask that you be patient with us given the difficulty of the maintenance, we do encourage you to please bring to our attention potholes or other issues which you feel need attention. Please call our Pothole Hotline at 666-7669 or feel free to contact me at 666-6530 or Supervisor@ bedfordny.gov. For potholes on the NYS roads traversing the Town (Routes 22, 117, 121, 137 and 172) please call NYS’s pothole line at 1-800-POTHOLE. We appreciate your understanding and patience.
Proposed Cell Tower at Petre Glass or 425 Cherry StreetProcess Following the Balloon Tests As those following this newsletter are aware, Homeland Towers has proposed a cell tower at 21 Haines Road (Petre Glass) or in the alternative 425 Cherry Street. One of the first steps in the process are balloon tests at the sites to assess visual impact of the tower. The balloon tests were performed last Saturday, March 9: two at the potential locations at 425 Cherry Street – one right by the town building at the north end and the second at the south end of the property at the end of the parking lot and the third was at 21 Haines Road. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday morning driving around to assess view impacts which are different for all three potential sites. I’d like to mention a few points for the understandably anxious and highly concerned residents who may be affected. Federal law – the Federal Communication Act and orders of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) leave very little authority to municipalities in their review of applications for wireless facilities. If the applicant proves that there is a deficiency in cell service and that the site which is proposed is the least obtrusive, then the municipality is hard pressed not to approve the application. The extent of the authority then is limited to “site plan review” such as the design, screening, tweaking location and similar matters Planning Board members provided instructions to Homeland Towers on the balloon tests, location of photographs to attempt to capture the visual impact Homeland Towers had engaged a professional photographer with experience and training in taking the photographs The next steps (and the FCC has recently expanded what constitutes a need) There also are trade-off If on town property, we have more control of the tower site and the tower operation than if on a private site. Although the Town would receive rental income from town property, the Town Board is far more interested in minimizing impact than in getting revenue. With a tower on Town property we’d get a berth for police department and other emergency communications equipment at the top of the tower. Then again, there are folks who will see a tower at 425 but won’t see it at Petre. Folks who live on Haines (especially the condos at 51 Haines) will see Petre very nearby, but not the tower sites at 425. The Town Board needs to balance the visual impacts, long term advantages to emergency services and impact on property owners. No decisions will be made any time soon. It will be months, not weeks. Based on prior balloon tests, we had anticipated that it would take three months for Homeland Towers to submit its visual impact analysis to the Town. Homeland Towers president mentioned to me in a call earlier this week, however, that they may submit the visual analysis report to the Planning Board within three weeks. The Town will engage an independent, dispassionate consultant to review all of Homeland’s submissions. Under federal law the Planning Board will need to act upon Homeland’s application within 120 twenty days (this period is referred to as the “shotclock”). The shotclock does not begin to run until the application is complete. Without the visual impact analysis the application is incomplete. There will be ample opportunity for public input, including public hearings. I would like to thank Sarah Sheeleigh Jeffers for initiating an excellent community conversation on the Katonah Parents Facebook Group regarding the balloon tests and Homeland Tower’s proposal. I also thank those who are posing their questions and concerns. Be assured that the Town Board and Planning Board is listening intently.
REMINDER: Leaf Blower Use Limitations OFF SEASON LIMITATIONS FOR USE OF LEAF BLOWERSGO INTO EFFECT MAY 15, 2019. In accordance with the local law adopted by the Town Board on June 19, 2018 the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is prohibited on certain designated streets (link to hamlet zone list) in the Town’s hamlets. In addition, town-wide hours of permitted use are set. These limitations are part of a wider initiative to promote cleaner, quieter methods of landscaping and property maintenance, while still enabling property owners to maintain their lawns and grounds well. The Town is also launching an education campaign for residents and landscapers about healthy yard practices, and collaborating with landscapers regarding electric equipment options.
This law is very much in keeping with emerging trends across Westchester and the country at large in response to the health and environmental benefits of reducing the pollution and noise caused by gas-powered blowers and leaf blowers in general.
Pictured above are members of the HeatSmart Team, representing Bedford 2020, Lewisboro Sustainability Committee, Pound Ridge Energy Action Committee with Bedford Town Supervisor Chris Burdick, Lewiboro Town Supervisor Peter Parsons, Pound Ridge Town Supervisor Kevin Hansan.
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Work Session – Sewer Project The Town Board met with Ken Kohlbrenner with Woodard & Curran, the engineering consultants for the Town on the sewer project, Director of Planning Jeff Osterman and Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn to discuss the sewer project. First, I provided an update on the status of the ex isting project, which we’re referring to as Phase I. As you know, the launch of the project hinges on the registration of the Intergov ernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Town and New Y ork City . The IGA is the source of $1 3.3 million in funding for the project, so it’s essential that it be in place. The registration process began in June of last y ear. It’s a long process. At one point we thought it might be completed in January , but it has taken longer and likely will not be completed until late Spring/early Summer this y ear. Following registration of the IGA, we would go out to bid, however the Summer is the high season for bidding projects and so doesn’t place us in an ideal competitiv e env ironment. We also do not want to disrupt the business districts with construction in November or December. As such, the anticipated project schedule now is as follows: • Complete design, regulatory approval, and IGA – August 201 9• Receive bids for Construction Work – November 201 9• Start Construction – Spring 2020• Complete Construction – Fall 2021
As we’ve discussed, given the lengthy process for implementation of the sewer project, last Fall we decided we should explore the next phase (Phase II) andbeyond for sewers for Bedford Hills and Katonah. That led to a PreliminaryEngineering Report which Woodard & Curran prepared. Phase IIcenters on Bedford Lake Apartments/Lakeside at Bedford off of Haines Road, because it is the last of the DEP upgrade sites. Our recent meeting with DEP was encouraging that DEP is quite interested in hav ing the Town proceed with an “alternative upgrade” connecting those apartments to the sewer system and providing the Town the funds it otherwise would have spent on a new wastewater treatment plant for the apartments and discounted to presentvalue cost of operation and maintenance of the plant. The Woodard & Curran report made it clear that connecting to the County sewer district through Mt. Kisco was not only logistically difficult with multiple entities’ approval required, but also much more expensive than a modest expansion of the capacity of the capacity of the wastewater treatment plantthat the Departments of Corrections and Community Superv ision will convey to the Town. We discussed options that the Town might consider for sewers, recognizing that there needs to be property owner support which ev entually would take the form of a v ote on a referendum based on costs to the owners (both the cost of connecting as well the annual sewer rent). The Board asked staff to prepare a survey to property owners on certain residential streets with known septic issues or which may hav e septic issues arise. Phase II District Summary Phase II Draft Survey Questions
Update on I-684 Earlier today I testified at a special State Senate hearing in White Plains on public transportation. On February 8 I had also testified to present the resolutions of the Bedford Town Board urging the New York State legislature to provide funding for the repaving of the 1.5 mile portion of I-684 which runs through Katonah. As so many are acutely aware, the Town of Bedford for over 20 years has beseeched the State to pave this short portion of roadway, the original concrete roadbed and the only portion of all of I-684 which has not been paved in fifty years when it first was constructed. [Link to testimony]. I urge you to keep up the calls, e-mails and letters to our representatives urging them to pave this dangerously deteriorated portion of the highway. See below under “Special November 8 Town Board Work Session on I-684” for contact information and thank you for pressing to get this done.
February 26 Planning Board MeetingBalloon Tests for Proposed Cell Tower As I’ve mentioned previously, Homeland Towers, a cell tower developer whose customers include Verizon and AT&T, has proposed a cell tower at the Petre Glass property at 29 Haines Road or in the alternative at the Town’s nearby property at 425 Cherry Street. A tower at the Town’s property would eliminate the need for the one proposed at 29 Haines Road and the Police Department would be provided the highest on the tower for upgraded emergency wireless communications equipment for which it is in need. The Planning Board will review the application for the Petre Glass site, because it is on private property, and the Town Board will review the application for the 425 Cherry Street site. As those following cell tower proposals are aware, the Town has very limited authority regarding the siting of cell towers due to federal law pre-emptions (see discussion below). The first step in a municipality’s consideration of the siting of a cell tower is to set balloon tests, a standard test which the Planning Board requires to help assess the suitability of particular sites. A balloon test is conducted by floating orange or red balloons that are at the height needed for the proposed cell tower. The test will give the community a perspective of the visual impact of the proposed tower. On February 5, the Town Board, with the concurrence of the Planning Board, set the balloon tests for all three locations (one on the Petre site and two at 425 Cherry), for Saturday, March 2, 2019 with a rain/snow date of Sunday, March 3, 2019. The Planning Board will set the standards for the balloon tests at its February 26 meeting. The meeting will be held at 8:00pmThe Conference Room-2nd Floor425 Cherry Street Bedford Hills, NY 10507 You are encouraged to attend and voice your comments regarding the balloon tests. Please note that balloon tests regardingGuard Hill have been canceled.
Federal Law Overrides Town Law The Town of Bedford is governed by federal law. Federal Law overrides local law. In December 2018, the Town Board amended its local law on applications for large wireless facilities and small wireless facilities in order to take into account the Federal Communication Act and new rules and regulations of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The FCC has ruled that it is a federal matter and not a local matter whether a particular cell tower is safe; that it does not emit radiation or that it does not pose a safety hazard. This is because the Federal Communications Act has determined that is a federal responsibility. Municipalities are preempted from denying a cell tower application due to health, safety and radiation reasons. In other words, if a municipality wishes to deny an application for a cell tower, it may only due so on narrow land use concerns. If the applicant establishes certain facts, including deficient service with no viable, less intrusive, alternative location, then the municipality has little choice in the matter. The new Town law also provides new tools to the Town to help protect residential areas of Town.
A Community Solar Opportunity forBedford’s NYSEG Customers I received an email recently regarding an invitationto qualified Bedford residents:
Dear Chris: Bedford 2020 has been given the opportunity to identify a small group of households to participate in a community solar project. This opportunity is only for residents who do not already have rooftop solar and who live in NYSEG territory. If you are a NYSEG customer, you may qualify.Community Solar brings the benefits of solar power to your home without your having to install solar panels on your roof or property. The panels are sited at another location in the community. In this case, the array is located on a local horse farm in North Salem and is big enough to provide power for about 15 households.
Bedford 2020 has been given the opportunity to identify a small group of households to participate in a community solar project. This opportunity is only for residents who do not already have rooftop solar and who live in NYSEG territory. If you are a NYSEG customer, you may qualify.Community Solar brings the benefits of solar power to your home without your having to install solar panels on your roof or property. The panels are sited at another location in the community. In this case, the array is located on a local horse farm in North Salem and is big enough to provide power for about 15 households. By participating, you will be supporting local, clean energy and seeing guaranteed savings on your electricity bill (of up to 5%) each and every month. You will also have the ability to cancel at any time with no penalty and no upfront costs. Signing up is as easy as uploading a utility bill and signing a short agreement. Click here to sign up, or call Nick directly at PowerMarket: 203.247.809, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to offer Bedford 2020 supporters a chance to participate in this exciting renewable energy project. If you think you may qualify, please take action ASAP to find out more about this opportunity. Spots are limited! -Bedford 2020
After Hours Rules for Commuter Lots Town of Bedford Residents that do not have a commuter parking permit are allowed to park for free in the commuter lots Monday to through Thursday from 6:00 pm to 5:00 provided that they have a resident parking decal. Parking is free on weekends to everyone starting on Fridays at 6:00 pm and on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Beaver Dam Yard Waste and Compost Facility The Town of Bedford Beaver Dam Compost Facility processes recyclable wood waste and leaves from the Town and provides beneficial reuse of the waste as compost and mulch. The facility provides an extremely cost effective method for this recycling as well as an environmental benefit of local recycling with minimal transportation requirements. It is open for residents to dispose of recyclable wood waste (logs and branches up to 6” diameter, brush, and leaves), as well as pick up wood mulch and leaf compost. This service is free to Town of Bedford residents between 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM Monday to Friday, excluding Town holidays.
A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”. Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review. I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them(for example, why the flags are flown at half-staff.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Mortgage rates declined decisively this week amid various market reports, a strong bond auction and further uncertainty around the Brexit deal, which all contributed to driving bond yields lower. At 4.31 percent, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is at its lowest since February of last year. While these low rates will certainly get the attention of prospective homebuyers, the supply of homes for sale remains stubbornly low.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.31 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending March 14, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.41 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.44 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.76 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.83 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.90 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
The downtowns of most major American cities were a great investment, even for those who bought in the real estate crisis a decade ago — and the premium gap between city centers and their suburbs continues to widen, a new survey of urban real estate finds. The only question is: Who can afford it?
In Philadelphia, Boston and Manhattan, home-hunters need to pay a premium of well over $300,000 to live in the heart of the city, according to Property Shark, a unit of Yardi, the global property management and services company. Its study, which examined the median sale prices of homes in 34 major U.S. cities between 2008 to 2018, found the price appreciation coincided with a many cities’ population booms and growing household incomes.
But it’s not only wealthy coastal cities enjoying the surge in urban home prices. In troubled Detroit, where the overall population is shrinking, the disparity is even greater. Real estate in the city’s downtown area has a median price tag of $229,250, compared with $37,000 for non-downtown property within the city’s 142 square miles.
The West Coast is the only region where downtowns haven’t kept pace with outlying areas, thanks to a huge runup in home prices across the board.
“California simply has a higher number of large cities compared to other states,” added report author Eliza Theiss, “and each city has its own specific reasons why a downtown will be a hotspot, or an area that will not be able to compete.”
For example, despite being a tech center, San Jose’s downtown doesn’t have the potential to compete for home-hunters with nearby Mountain View, Palo Alto or Cupertino. Likewise San Diego, despite its oceanside location, loses out to neighboring La Jolla and Torrey Pines, she said.
In recent years, some downtowns have benefited from tax breaks and redevelopment that has lured young professionals back to the cities, creating the “cultural shift” that has made them so expensive, Theiss said. Among the new amenities are sports stadiums, convention centers, “green” recreational belts, food festivals and parades. New public and private transportation options make it unnecessary to own and garage a car, eliminating a major expense for city residents.
Workers are also flocking to the cities for jobs. “Sacramento is a great example of how a downtown can be revived and turned into an economic engine and an attractive place to live and work,” she said of the California state capital, which is an exception to the report’s West Coast rule.
The dark side of the rising prices, of course, is gentrification. “There’s no going around it,” said Theiss. “With downtowns becoming trendy, the white flight of decades past has reversed, with higher income residents displacing long-term working-class and low-income residents, in some cases displacing existing communities.”
But as downtowns price themselves out of reach, young professionals may migrate into other areas, spreading gentrification to other city neighborhoods, although that’s not always a sure thing. “The process of gentrification doesn’t always spread from one neighborhood to one that borders it,” she said. “If there are already well-established neighborhoods where home prices are quite high. it’s not an option. If the downtown is bordered by a more neglected area that’s mostly commercial space, then there is a lot of potential.”
Another issue is employment trends, with some tech companies opening satellite offices outside of pricy downtown centers. Amazon’s decision to open a new headquarters in Long Island City, New York, could bump up prices there, for example.
Even so, city lawmakers and planners may push back. “Many downtowns don’t have the necessary space or willingness to accommodate them,” said Theiss, “and not everyone is excited about seeing their downtowns change so much.”
One thing is clear. While there are exceptions, buying a downtown home of any kind is generally a moneymaker. Chicago may have its issues, but it was the city with the the largest difference between the downtown and the rest of the city, closing 2018 with a $675,000 premium.
Student debt has impacted the housing decisions of young Americans, the Federal Reserve said, delaying homeownership and prompting a significant number of college grads to move away from rural areas.
In two papers published Wednesday, the Fed said homeownership for adults ages 24 to 32 fell 9% from 2005 to 2014, landing at 36%.
The Fed said that while a number of factors are at play, it attributes 2 percentage points of this 9% decline to student debt, meaning that 400,000 borrowers could have purchased a house but didn’t because of their debt.
Outstanding student loan balances have more than doubled to about $1.5 trillion in the last decade, according to the Fed, with the average debt per student in the 24 to 32 set rising from $5,000 to $10,000 from 2005 to 2014.
The paper points out that increased student debt heightens the likelihood of default, therefore impacting an individual’s credit score and, with a weak credit score, it may be more difficult to obtain a mortgage.close dialogStay ahead of the market withDaily UpdateAround the clock coverage and information about the US mortgage and housing industrySign UpNo thanks
“While investing in postsecondary education continues to yield, on average, positive and substantial returns, burdensome student loan debt levels may be lessening these benefits,” the researchers wrote.
But the Fed declined to say that the impact of student debt on homeownership is entirely negative, instead calling it “complex.”
“On the one hand, student loan payments may reduce an individual’s ability to save for a down payment or qualify for a mortgage. On the other hand, investments in higher education also, on average, result in higher earnings and lower rates of unemployment,” the researchers wrote.
Fed researchers also analyzed the causal relationship between student debt and a noted migration of debt holders away from rural areas.
More than half of student-loan borrowers moved out of rural areas to urban areas within six years of incurring their debt, researchers wrote in a second paper.
“The loss of college educated young people could have important effects on the economic vitality of rural areas and raises questions about what rural policymakers could do to retain a larger share of these individuals,” the researchers wrote. “As more college students borrow to finance their educations, this question becomes even more pressing.”
NEW POSTS Highlights of the January 3, 2019 Town Board AgendaOrganizational Meeting As I mentioned last week, the Town Board at its first meeting in each year, holds an organizational meeting to make appointments; approve contracts and agreements with consultants, contractors, vendors and other third parties and adopt certain financial policies on recommendation of the Town Comptroller; and designate the official newspapers for the Town. Specifically, the Town Board took the following action:1. Designated the Town’s official newspapers: The Record Review andThe Journal News2. Appointment of Town Board as Audit Committee 3. Approval of Town Membership in the Association of Townsa. Approved payment of 2019 dues in the amount of $1,650b. Authorized Supervisor to vote on behalf of the Townc. Authorized Deputy Supervisor as alternate to vote on behalf ofthe Town. 4. Authorize Supervisor to approve attendance of Town officials atseminars and training in accordance with the 2019 Budget 5. Upon recommendation of the Comptroller adopted/approved thefollowing:a. Investment Policyb. Designation of Depositoriesc. Authorize Supervisor to transact business with designated depositoriesand sign necessary paperworkd. Transfer Policye. Payments prior to auditf. Mileage Reimbursement— (approved IRS rate of 54.5 cents per mile). g. Designation of Town Credit Cards 6. Established standard hours for positions within the Town of Bedford 7. Proposed rates/fee schedule for contractors, consultants and otherthird parties 8. Upon recommendation of the Supervisor, made the followingappointmentsa. John Stockbridge as Town Historian for a one-year termcommencing January 1, 2019 and ending December 31, 2019.b. Hahn Engineering as Consulting Engineers for a one-year termcommencing January 1, 2019 and ending December 31, 2019.c. James J. Hahn as Stormwater Management Officer for a one-year termcommencing January 1,2019 and ending December 31, 2019.d. Kevin Winn as Illegal Discharge Officer for a one-year term commencingJanuary 1, 2019 and ending December 31, 2019. 9. Authorized the Supervisor to enter into agreements with contractors,consultants and other third parties in accordance with rate/fee schedule asfollows:a. Town Engineer Hahn Engineeringb. Carl R. Anderson Court Reporterc. Environmental Planning & Managementd. Evans Associates Environmental Consultinge. Horsley Wittenf. North East Westchester Special Recreation, Inc.g. Precise Translations (Court Interpreter).h. Spring Hill Kennelsi. Sullivan Data Management 10. Authorized Supervisor to sign the Tri Town Agreement to fund the DrugAbuse Prevention Council (Bedford, Lewisboro and Pound Ridge) andContractor Agreement ($22,000.) (Pending Town of Lewisboro and PoundRidge agreement) 11. Authorized Supervisor to sign 2019 funding agreements for Bedford,Bedford Hills and Katonah libraries.
Sewer Project The Town Board held a Work Session to review with the Town’s consulting engineers, Woodard & Curran, design engineers for the sewer project, a report on the next steps in providing sewers for Bedford Hills and Katonah. Yesterday, I received a memo from the Westchester County Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond inviting northern Westchester municipalities in the NYC watershed to submit by January 14 requests for East of Hudson funds (also known as Water Quality Improvement Program funds) for water quality projects noting that there are some $31 million in unencumbered funds remaining in the funds, which the County administers. The Town has accessed $10 million in such funds under two separate Inter-municipal Agreements with the County; one of which provides for $3.5 million in funds for the Town’s Septic System Repair and Replacement Program and up to $6.5 million toward the Town’s sewer project. The Board first reviewed with Woodard & Curran its Phase II report then, prompted by Commissioner Drummond’s invitation to request funds, discussed a much broader sewer project for a great portion of the more densely populated areas of Bedford Hills and Katonah. I spoke yesterday with Commissioner Drummond and explained that it would be a large request and she confirmed that the Town should proceed. As such, on recommendation of Woodard & Curran and staff, the Board at the regular meeting following the work session adopted a resolution to authorize me to submit a request for $52,350,000 for such a sewer project click to view mapsThe Board also authorized me to submit a request for $650,000 for engineer services, bond counsel, legal counsel and other soft costs associated with prepared a Map, Plan & Report for the project.
Implementation of Capital Plan Comptroller Abraham Zambrano will be presenting to the Town Board proposed bond resolutions to implement the 2019 portion of the Town’s ten year Capital Plan, which runs from 2018-2027. Please see Comptroller Abraham Zambrano’s memo to the Town Board for a discussion of the plan.
Collaboration with the County on Upgrades toEmergency Service Communications;Collaboration with Cell Tower Developer I have been writing in this space on the need to upgrade the Town’s emergency communications capabilities. ESS which supplies radio communication equipment to the Police Department has recommended the need to improve its equipment and broadcast capabilities. Over the last several years, the County Department of Emergency Services and Department of Public Safety has launched an ambitious, long-term project for major upgrades in the County’s emergency facilities at various tower sites throughout the County including a tower off of Guard Hill road (few know the site exists as it is atop a high point and in the woods). The proposal for the Guard Hill tower would be for a 40’ extension on the County’s tower. The upgrades will provide significantly improved capabilities not only for the County’s own communications but also for those of all three fire departments and KBHVAC whose equipment also is on the County tower (the Town also has broadcasting equipment for the Highway and Recreation and Parks Department on the tower). On a parallel course Homeland Towers, a tower developer, with which the Town is having discussions regarding a possible tower at or near the Town’s office building at 425 Cherry Street (in lieu of a tower Homeland has proposed for the Petre Glass site down the street on Haines Road) has approached the Town for constructing a tower at the Guard Hill site for cell carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Spring. At a meeting I hosted in November with representatives of the County, the fire departments and our police department, Homeland Towers offered to construct at its expense a tower to replace the County’s tower which would accommodate the County, all of the public safety agencies described, the Town’s departments described as well as the cell carriers. The County has stated that it agrees in principal to the Homeland proposal provided the tower is constructed in accordance with County specifications. The Town Board adopted a resolution to authorize Homeland to inspect the Guard Hill site and conduct a balloon test for a proposed new tower.
Vacancies on Blue Mountain Housing Development Board The Board is accepting applications for two vacancies on the Blue Mountain Housing Development Board and Bedford Housing Agency. Background in residential real estate construction, planning and design, architecture or engineering is sought. We also are seeking an individual with an accounting or financial background who might serve as Treasurer of the corporation. To provide greater geographic diversity on the Board, we encourage residents of Bedford Hills and Bedford Village to consider applying. If you are interested in serving, please e-mail your resume with a cover letter to email@example.com. You also may mail it to me at Supervisor, 321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills, New York 10507.
A New Year’s Resolution thatwe can carry with us all year:
PRIOR POSTS OF CONTINUED RELEVANCE On December 18, the Town Board held its last meeting of 2018at which we took the following action. New Wireless Telecommunications Law – Adopted Following a further public hearing, which was in addition to the public hearing we head on December 4, we replaced the Town’s existing 19 year old law. Read the Adopted Law and its provisions. The new law now will enable the Town better to respond to applications for new wireless facilities, both large (such as cell towers) and small (such as DAS and other relatively new technologies). The new law also provides additional tools to the Planning Board to help protect residential neighborhoods with a siting priority or ranking which requires applicants to consider municipal, industrial and other non-residential sites before residential properties. I wish to thank members of the Communications Committee, the Town’s counsel, as well as members of the public who provided valuable comments to the proposed law much of which we incorporated into the new law. The Town’s counsel prepared a memorandum dated December 14 which summarizes the law and changes since the version considered at the December 4 public hearing. Here’s the link for the memorandum.
Approval of Collective Bargaining Agreementwith the Bedford Police Benefit Association The existing contract with the PBA expires on December 31, 2018. Earlier this year, the Town Board appointed a negotiating team comprised of Town Labor Counsel, Stephanie Roebuck, Police Chief Melvin Padilla, Personnel Director Joan Gallagher and Comptroller Abraham Zambrano.The Board approved the recommendation of the negotiating team to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding for the new contract. Attorney Roebuck summarized the provisions of the agreement as follows:“I am pleased to report that the negotiation teams for the Town of Bedford and the Bedford PBA have come to an agreement regarding the successor agreement to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between the parties. The basic terms of the agreement are as follows: A three year contract duration Wage increases for each year: 2019 – 2.75%; 2020 – 2.5%; 2021 – 2.5% Health insurance contribution increases:-Unit members hired before July 1, 2015 shall contribute 2.5% of firstgrade patrolman’s salary for family coverage (up from 2%) and 1.5% offirst grade patrolman’s salary for individual coverage (up from 1%) -Unit members hired on or after July 1, 2015 shall contribute 15% ofthe applicable premium (up from 13%) A steady tour work schedule will be instituted in 2019, which shall be reviewed annually and, also, sunset at the end of the CBA term – The terms of the steady tour agreement states specifically, “Night Differential: Officers shall not receive any night differential compensation for working any tour pursuant to this Agreement.” The right for a required independent medical examination, at the discretion of the Chief, after reaching an absence threshold. This IME provision is tied to the steady tour provisions, so it will be eliminated if the steady tour provision is either eliminated or sunsets An agreement to provide a set time frame of 20 business days for the Chief to make any initial 207-c determinations An agreement to change the language in the maternity and paternity clauses to recognize births that happen outside of the institution of marriage and make the clauses gender neutral. An agreement to change the way a shift will be filled when the shortage occurs immediately prior to when the shift is to come on duty. An agreement to pro-rate paid holidays and the uniform and cleaning allowance for officers out on extended sick leave or 207-c An agreement for unit members to provide prior notice that they will be eligible for the educational allowance to allow for budgeting of these amounts-Comptroller Abraham Zambrano
Amendments to 2018 through 2027 Capital Plan Following a Work Session on December 4, amendments to the Capital Plan were further revised. The December 4 session followed a work session in November. The Board adopted on December 18 the amendments to the Capital Plan which resulted in a lesser increase than the version considered in November. The change responds to suggestions made by Deputy Supervisor Lee Roberts and Councilman Don Scott and does not affect the total amount. It is to combine the proposed capital expenditures for Zema at $100,000 and Indian Hill at $328,000 and apply the combined amount of $428,000 funds to be available for Indian Hills, Leatherman’s Ridge, Vernon Hills and Zema. Open Space reserves would provide $214,000 of the $428,000. The priorities would be addressing the pervasive invasive plants in Zema (and to some extent Vernon Hills); clean-up of rubbish and debris (all areas except Indian Hills, which presently is not easily accessible); and planning, engineering and, if possible, creation of an access drive off of Indian Hill Road. The Recreation and Parks Department would be responsible for the work and would engage neighbors, the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee, Conservation Board, Wetlands Control Commission, neighbors and other stakeholders. In addition, Bill Heidepriem will consult with Kevin Winn and Jeff Osterman in planning and carrying out the work. The Board plans on taking action on Tuesday with the adoption of the amendments to the Capital Plan together with corresponding bond resolutions. The Board will not authorize the actual expenditure of funds until it has followed its required process of seeking quotes or bids, reviewing contracts and deciding whether or not then to proceed. Read the Adopted Amendments here.
Post March Storm Actions Regarding Utilities On September 4, the Town Board adopted a resolution asking the Public Service Commission for an independent assessment of NYSEG’s performance NYSEG’s record of poor service, inadequate storm preparedness, and inadequate storm response prompted the Town Board in September to call upon the Public Service Commission (PSC) to open an investigation on NYSEG’s service quality and other issues which the Town Board raised in its resolution. I received a letter from the PSC on October 30 notifying me that the PSC agreed to open a proceeding (Case 18-E-0650) to investigate these matters. Though I can’t say for certain, it does appear that our action has gotten NYSEG’s attention. Two weeks ago Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and I met with a senior official at NYSEG who acknowledged the need to “harden” its infrastructure in Bedford including three circuits whose performance has been poor. In addition, NYSEG is weighing our request (as supported by other Town supervisors) to accelerate NYSEG’s tree trimming cycle from five years to three years (tree trimming is one of the most effective measures to reduce storm-related outages). I should note that Con Edison has a three year tree trimming cycle and at the property owner’s request, will remove the wood. NYSEG’s representative identified other actions regarding its Bedford infrastructure that will be addressed. He also acknowledged that NYSEG’s communication with the community during the March power outage left much to be desired and pledged to significantly improve communication.Be assured that we will continue to press NYSEG on these points. We have been having parallel conversations with Con Edison
Update on Property Tax Cap Freeze Rebatesand Other Credits Some residents have asked me the status of rebates and credits. Tax Assessor Harold Girdlestone explains as follows: The property tax Freeze check for municipalities (and special districts) started in 2015 and ended in 2016 and used 2014 tax year as baseline. The municipality must be in compliance with the tax cap (which we were in both years) and property owners must meet the following criteria to receive a freeze check: – Received and Meet STAR exemption requirements- On their primary residence only- Income under $500,000 (fyi – schools also had a freeze check in 2014 and ended in 2015 using tax year baseline of 2013/2014) The property tax freeze credit check fully reimbursed eligible homeowners for increases to their taxes imposed by all taxing jurisdictions that comply with the eligibility requirements and tax cap compliance. The freeze credit check amount was the greater of: the actual increase in the homeowner’s tax bill as compared to the baseline year, or the previous year’s tax bill multiplied by an inflation factor (the lesser of 2% or inflation) Homeowners whose tax bills go down, stay the same, or increase less than the inflation factor will receive a credit equal to the previous year’s tax bill multiplied by the inflation factor. (See attachment Property tax freeze) There is also a Property Tax Relief Credit Check that was implemented in 2016 and continues thru 2019. In summary, in 2016 all eligible owners receiving a Star exemption (BASIC OR ENHANCED) received a flat check amount of $185 dollars. In 2017, all eligible BASIC STAR recipients received a percentage our their STAR savings based on their income. In each subsequent year thru 2019, the percentage used to calculate the Tax relief Check is incrementally increased. For Enhanced STAR recipients (65 and older), an incremental percentage of their Enhanced Star saving is used to calculate their property relief check. If you have questions please contact Harry Girdlestone at hgirdlestone@ bedfordny.gov or at 914-864-3831
Update on Town’s Work withBedford Loves Horses I wish to thank Bedford Loves Horses for their advocacy for property owners with horses or those property owners who wish to bring horses to their property. The Town recognizes that horse ownership, trails and properties are a key component of the history and character of our community and we support the horse community and promote the work of the community. Working with Bedford Loves Horses, this past Spring the Town Board revised the Zoning Code based on the group’s recommendations. We now are working with Bedford Loves Horses to address other concerns including safety of riders crossing roads – this is a matter of enforcement, engineering and education, including signage, enforcement of traffic laws and educating the public on the need to share the road with riders. I will be providing updates in this space from time to time in the coming weeks on our partnership with Bedford Loves Horses.
Update from the Traffic Safety Working Group The Traffic Safety Working Group (TSWG) held its last meeting of 2018 on Wednesday, December 12. As some residents have requested, I prepared with the help of staff a summary of actions the Town has taken on traffic, passenger and pedestrian safety in 2018:Police Department Enforcement Actions – The Police Department has issued 3371 summonses for moving violations (including 511 commercial vehicle, 739 speeding, 467 Seatbelt, 152 Cell Phone/texting, 56 Stop sign violations, and 12 DWI arrests. January –November 2018).Child Safety Seats– 81 Seats were installed and/or inspected I-684 The Town Board has been working with our elected officials and with the Regional Office of the New York State Department of Transportation to secure the repaving of the concrete portion of I-684 running through Bedford. Planned Reconfiguration of Intersection of Harris and Babbitt Roads the Town has applied to Westchester County for a Community Development Block Grant which would fund in part improvements to this intersection, which would be designed to improve safety exiting Babbitt Road onto Harris Road. Variable Message Boards Upon recommendation of Police Chief Melvin Padilla the Town Board authorized the purchase of two additional variable message speed boards. With the purchase, the Town now owns and deploys 10 variable message boards to announce events affecting traffic flows and to calm traffic. Sidewalks To improve pedestrian safety, the Town installed new sidewalks along Valley Road between Cottage Place and New Street, and along Church Street near Babbitt Road. We also modified the sidewalk near the Katonah Elementary School in order to install a new crosswalk. Emergency Backup Power for Traffic Lights The Town Board has authorized in its Capital Plan the purchase of emergency backup power systems to automatically start in the event of a power outage which cuts the power for the traffic lights at the intersection of Route 35 and Route 22 and at Route 35 and I-684 overpass. Pedestrian Activated Lights – Route 117 and Haines On petition from the Town, the NYS Department of Transportation has agreed to install pedestrian activated signaling for the cross walk near Haines Road over Route 117 in Bedford Hills. This portion of the road is four lanes in width and poses pedestrian hazards. Raised Cross Walk and Speed Humps – Cherry Street The Town replaced the crosswalk in front of 425 Cherry Street with a raised crosswalk and installed a speed table at Kelly Circle near the stop line and a speed table near Quicks Lane. LED Light Conversion The Town is proceeding with the conversion of 571 street lights in NYSEG service area to LED lamps. LED saves energy and reduces electricity costs. It also provides more uniform lighting for greater safety for pedestrians and motorists, and has much less frequent equipment failures than the lighting which is being replaced.
Increase in Shredder Events in 2019 One of the services which we hear the community uses a good deal is the shredder events at the Recycling Center and in May at the Crusher Road Highway Facility during Clean Up weekend. The Town Board included additional funding in the 2019 Town budget to enable the Public Works Department to increase shredder events from quarterly to monthly. The following is the schedule: Saturdays1/5, 2/2, 4/6, 6/1, 7/6, 8/3, 10/5, 11/2, 12/7 Town Recycling Center343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills 1050711:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Tuesday3/5Town Recycling Center343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills 1050711:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Thursday9/5Town Recycling Center343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills 1050711:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Saturday5/4Crusher Road Highway Yard1 Crusher Road Bedford Village 105069:00 to 12:00.
Further Update on Route 117 As I mentioned last week, Con Edison’s resurfacing of the Route 117 south of Green Lane and on Green Lane will not occur before winter, but rather in the Spring of 2019. The reason is that the precipitous drop in temperature and sustained low temperatures over the past few weeks has not made the work feasible. Very low road surface temperatures imperil the durability of the resurfacing. On a positive note, as we’ve requested, DOT is requiring Con Edison to perform a curb to curb resurfacing as early as practicable in the Spring of 2019 and also to repair unsafe surfaces. The Town is requiring the same with respect to Green Lane between Route 117 and the tracks.
2019 Town Budget Adopted The Board held a public hearing on the 2019 Town budget following which we adopted the budget. The budget is within the New York State Property Tax Cap with approximately a 2.8% tax increase and continues to provide for a high level of services. Comptroller Abraham Zambrano forecasts an increase in fund balances (reserves) for 2018 which will add to already strong balances. Read the budget here, including the Comptroller’s budget message andmy budget message (portions of which are excerpted below). The following are key features of the budget: The final budget is the same as the Preliminary Budget which the Town Board adopted last month and provides as follows: The appropriations for all funds is $39,076,643 and the projected non-tax revenues total $13,825,511, leaving an amount of $25,251,132 to be levied as taxes; this amount is $12,308 below the calculated allowable tax cap of $25,263,440. The total General Fund’s Preliminary budget is $22,530,845 which requires $13,012,139 to be raised by taxes at a tax rate of $22.0477 per $1000 of assessed valuation. The proposed rate is $0.60 higher than the rate for 2018, which represents a 2.81% tax rate increase. The General Fund Appropriations will increase $1,143,030 or 5.34% higher than for 2018. The budget includes the following increases: Personnel expense: $119,444 Health insurance and dental: $726,753; note that we do not have the final percentage increase for our health insurance plan. There is some possibility that the increase may be lower than we used for purposes of adopting the budget. To the extent it is lower, any decrease in funds required will be added to contingency.Contingency of approximately $458,000 – as noted above, this amount may increase.NYS retirement system in the amount of $132,494The restoration of a maintenance position in the Building Department at an estimated annual cost including benefits of $90,000Recreation & Parks Programs of $81,450Paving budget: $75,000 to $1.3 million.Hiring of a part time Parking Enforcement Officer: $22,000.Open Space Fund in the amount of $59,454 (the first year of the one-quarter percent increase authorized by voter referendum and capped at a total of 2.0% in 2022)Recycling center: $32,000Libraries in the amount of $33,000 ($11,000 per library)Senior Advocate Program: $16,000 for full fundingI wish to thank Comptroller Abraham Zambrano and our department heads for their diligence and prudent fiscal management.
Reusable Bags The Reusable Bag law provisions become effective on April 1 when for large retailers (Shop Rite, DeCiccos, Key Foods, Kohls and CVS) will be required to charge 10c for paper or plastic check out bags where the customer does not his/her own bag. Ellen Calves of the Reusable Bag Task Force presented an update on the work of the Reusable Bag Task Force. She reported that the Task Force has completed its surveys to establish baselines of present reusable bag use. The Task Force also is working with smaller retailers regarding their use of reusable bags with the goal for greater use among all merchants.
LED Project Moving Ahead We are delighted that the Town’s LED project is underway with the conversion of some 571 street lamps in NYSEG service area to energy efficient (and cost efficient) LED. $250,000 of the project cost is funded through a grant from NYSERDA. The following is further information from Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn regarding the project: BEDFORD STREET LIGHT UPGRADE PROJECTPUBLIC INFORMATION NOVEMBER 2018 The Town of Bedford has purchased from New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) and intends to convert all of the existing 571 utility pole mounted streetlights to light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures. The purpose of the project is to improve the quality of street lighting in our lighting districts while utilizing less energy, reducing the Town’s carbon footprint, and reducing the Town’s annual electricity cost. LED fixtures provide a better quality of light, enhancing safety and visibility at night. The existing street lighting infrastructure, consisting of high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights, is inefficient in terms of power usage per lumen, poorly focuses the light, and has much shorter bulb life, leading to more frequent light outrages. Installation of efficient streetlights is also a demonstration of the Town’s commitment to resource conservation that can be seen and emulated by Town residents and business owners. The proposed streetlights will be a warm white color, on the yellow side rather than blue side of the color spectrum, in order to avoid the glaring aspect that can be associated with some LED lights. Light output levels are being selected to provide uniform, appropriate levels of light in both residential and commercial areas in the lighting districts. The new fixtures are designed to focus light on roads and sidewalks, and will result in much less stray light than the current fixtures. The Town intends to complete the majority of this project between December 2018 and April 2019. The project is funded through a $250,000 grant from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and through the cost savings that will occur from reduced energy use. There will be no cost increase to properties within the lighting districts. Please contact Kevin Winn at Bedford Department of Public Works at 914-666-7669 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments on this project.
Possible Cell Tower at Town Propertyat 425 Cherry Street Homeland Towers, a company which builds towers for wireless providers, including Verizon, has submitted to the Planning Board an application to erect a cell tower on property on Haines Road (past Dunkin Donuts) owned by Petre Glass & Mirror. Homeland has stated that the tower is required to provide needed capacity for the provision of personal cellular service. The Town has also had discussions with Homeland for an alternative site, which would be to construct a cell tower at the Town’s property at 425 Cherry Street. As such, only one of these locations will be necessary to address the providers’ concerns. Each application provides for collocating up to four carriers, obviating need for another tower in the area. The Planning Board will be responsible for reviewing the application for the Petre Glass site and the Town Board will review the alternate site at 425 Cherry Street. We will ask Homeland to provide balloon tests for both sites and will notify the community when these tests are going to be performed. In the event the Tower is located at 425 Cherry Street it would allow the Town to significantly improve police and other first responder communications and equipment. The next steps are the Town coordinating the review process between the Town Board and the Planning Board to allow sufficient due diligence while also avoiding duplication of effort.
Update on Westchester Power Program Jenna Amundsen of Sustainable Westchester provided an update on the Westchester Power Program Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). The Town of Bedford is a member of the not-for-profit Sustainable Westchester and has participated with other Westchester County municipalities in the CCA bulk purchasing program. As you may have read in this space, Bedford was the first municipality to renew its participation in CCA for the Con Edison service area in town. We did so based on the new fixed rates for a second contract term beginning January 2019 and ending December 31, 2020. The new rates, effective January 1, are 7.96 cents/kwh for 100% renewable energy, with standard supply a fraction of a penny less at 7.71 cents/kwh.To learn more read here. Ms. Amundsen reported that the results for NYSEG service area customers have been favorable with both cost savings over the NYSEG rates since the inception of the program while promoting renewable energy. Early next year Westchester Power will be seeking bids for the renewal of the CCA program in the NYSEG service area. The same requirements will hold: Bids must be lower than the NYSEG benchmarkBids must include separate rate quote for renewable energy produced in New York State. No “teaser rates”, but rather a fixed rate for the entire periodCustomers may opt out at any time without penalty or premium. Please click here for Ms. Amundsen’s presentation.
Pickup Trucks for Police Department A resident recently asked me why the Town Board authorized the purchase of pickup trucks for the Police Department, understandably concerned that the vehicles might be unnecessary and an extravagance. I thought I might share with you the following e-mail which Police Chief Melvin Padilla provided to the resident: Hello [name deleted] Supervisor Burdick brought to my attention that you expressed some concerns about current vehicles in the Police Department fleet. Specifically pickup trucks and the cost associated. You may be surprised to learn that the State Contract (pre-negotiated pricing for municipal purchases) cost for a 4×4 Crew Cab (4 door) pickup from Ford, Dodge, or Chevy averages approximately Five thousand dollars less than a comparably equipped 4×4 Chevy Tahoe. The Department has always maintained at least three 4×4 Chevy Tahoes for their towing, cargo, and severe inclement weather capabilities (prior to 2002 the department purchased the larger Suburban). The Department owns two large enclosed trailers and also borrows a large open platform trailer from Parks and Recreation Department to tow our Police Motorcycle and/or Utility Terrain Vehicle(UTV). Our current Tahoes are 8 years old and have approximately 150,000 miles on them. With repair and maintenance costs rising, fleet wide, using those older, high mileage vehicles for towing or 24 hour use is not the best idea. All three major manufacturers of police vehicles have released Police versions of their pickups (Ford, Dodge, and Chevy). As a cost saving measure to maintain the capabilities and durability of the Tahoe at a price within budget, I decided to give the pickup trucks a try as a replacement for the Tahoes. The Ford Explorer which is the predominate vehicle in our fleet is NOT rated to tow the types of trailers we own or use and does not perform very well on many of the unpaved, rough terrain back roads (nor does the explorer have the same cargo capacity, versatility, true 4×4, or durability as the pickups, or Tahoes for that matter). At this point I am happy with the choice as it has proven to be a far more versatile vehicle than the Tahoe (for cheaper price and within budget) and has been useful for our needs as a department countless times already in the short time we’ve had them. My goal is to have the mix of vehicles in our police fleet to be as diverse as the calls for service that we respond to. Thanks for your inquiry, and please feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions. Melvin Padilla Chief of PoliceBedford Police Department307 Bedford RdBedford Hills, NY 10507(914)241-3111
Cherry Street Speed Tables The Town Board took action regarding the temporary speed tables which had been installed over the summer. The Board took action because the temporary speed tables cannot remain over the winter as the plows will damage them, they may damage the plows and the damaged speed tables could pose a danger to cars. As such, they must be removed before winter. The November 8 meeting was the last meeting at which the Board could take action such that any permanent tables may be installed prior to winter. By way of background concerns about the rate of speed of traffic on Cherry Street have been raised for several years. In 2014 the Town received a report from traffic consultant VHB which included speed tables among options for consideration. Earlier this year, following staff review and recommendation and Town Board meetings reviewing the options, the Board directed installation of three removable speed tables on a trial basis: one a bit south of the intersection with the northern leg of Reyburn Drive (just north of the driveway to 46 Cherry Street), the second just south of the intersection with Kelly Circle; and the third south of the intersection with Quicks Lane (just north of the driveway to 147 Cherry Street).In addition the Board decided upon the installation of a raised crosswalk to replace the existing crosswalk in front of the Town Offices at 425 Cherry Street. The Town Board has asked staff to review the efficacy of the speed tables. We also wanted to hear from the public. We sent out letters to residents of Cherry Street and side streets, numerous e-mail updates and postings to the website so there has been ample attention and notification to the community. As mentioned, the Town Board has received and reviewed the comments both from the 359 surveys received as well as e-mails, telephone calls and hearing from you as we see you in town. Police Chief Melvin Padilla, Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Planning Director Jeff Osterman have reviewed the speed study data, other information received and the tabulated questionnaire results and are recommending the following: 1. Do not replace the temporary speed table just south of Reyburn.2. Replace the speed hump at Kelly Circle with a permanent speed table located closer to the stop sign.3. Replace the speed table near Quicks Lane with a permanent speed table. Click here for the memorandum to the Town Board setting out the recommendations and the rationale for them. Although the Town Board’s consideration of the matter was not a public hearing, we nearly treated it as such and about 13 residents expressed their views. Following the public comments, the Board approved the recommendations of the staff and also affirmed that the raised crosswalk on Cherry Street in front of the Town Offices at 425 Cherry Street will remain in place.
DRIVERS: A SAFETY REMINDER Pull over for emergency vehicles
This reminder came from our Bedford Fire Chief, Shawn Carmody, who has noticed that the disregard for the rules of the road regarding emergency vehicles has gotten worse since school has started. Please be mindful: “We have seen many drivers lately not pull over for emergency vehicles. We’re not sure of the reason, whether they are distracted, don’t hear or see the emergency vehicle or just feel they can stay ahead of the emergency vehicle at their current speed. State laws — and common sense — dictate that vehicles yield to emergency vehicles that are operating their emergency lights and siren. Emergency vehicle drivers are taught to pass on the left whenever possible and safe to do so when responding in an emergency mode. When it’s safe, drivers should slow down, pull over to the right and come to a complete stop, no coast or ride the shoulder. However, there are circumstances where that may not be possible: If your car is already stopped, and you don’t have anywhere to pull over, simply stay put until the emergency vehicle goes around you If you are blocking the route of the emergency vehicle, and you are able to pull ahead and over into a clear area, use your turn signal to indicate your intentions and proceed at a safe speed If you are on the crest of a hill or a bend of a curve, proceed through until oncoming traffic is visible for the emergency vehicle behind you
Other considerations: Never slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the road when you see apparatus approaching Make no sudden moves If an emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction, you should pull over and come to a full stop You have no idea if the emergency vehicle is proceeding down the road or are planning on turning into a driveway or intersection right in front of you Do not tailgate, “draft,” or follow a responding apparatus closely, not only is this illegal, you run the risk of a collision as vehicles pull back out into traffic after the emergency vehicle goes by You are not required to slow down or pull over for emergency vehicles that are responding in the opposite direction on a divided highway or interstate When a driver pulls over and then drives on the shoulder at a slower speed, they lengthen the distance in which the emergency vehicle must navigate before fully passing the vehicle. A vehicle travelling at 20mph on the shoulder is covering 29.3 feet every second and that adds to the passing corridor. This also provides less room for the emergency vehicle to pass and navigate oncoming traffic if they haven’t fully pulled over. When you see a personal vehicle operating a flashing blue or green light, those are volunteers responding to a call, they do not have the right of way like emergency vehicles do. These flashing lights are known as courtesy lights and we ask that people pull over if safe to do so, but you are not obligated to do so. These volunteers must stop for all traffic control devices and obey all traffic laws when responding. Please consider this the next time you encounter an emergency vehicle on the road. Help us get to our destination safely and efficiently. You never know, we may be heading to help someone you know.”
After Hours Rules for Commuter Lots Town of Bedford Residents that do not have a commuter parking permit are allowed to park for free in the commuter lots Monday to through Thursday from 6:00 pm to 5:00 provided that they have a resident parking decal. Parking is free on weekends to everyone starting on Fridays at 6:00 pm and on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Westchester Power ProgramSecures Rate Cuts & More Green Power for Customers Sustainable Westchester (SW) today announced its Westchester Power Program Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) has negotiated new fixed rates for a second contract term beginning January 2019 and ending December 31, 2020. The new rates, effective January 1, are 7.96 cents/kwh for 100% renewable energy, with standard supply a fraction of a penny less at 7.71 cents/kwh.To learn more read here.
Rules of the Road for Cyclists;Safety Tips for Walkers;Tips for Crossing the Street First, thanks for the comments on Facebook regarding last week’s post regarding road etiquette. Let’s all be safe and be mindful and considerate of others sharing the road – whether we’re motorists, cyclists, walkers or joggers. Motorists: please be patient – with Fall offering wonderful riding opportunities for cyclists, we’ll see cyclists enjoying our beautiful roads and lanes. Yes, many of the roads are narrow. And yes, some cyclists are riding three abreast, but most understand and observe the rules of the road. That said, some motorists are not considerate (or worse). (My guess is it’s not you who are reading this). Cyclists – please observe the rules of the road. While you are permitted to ride two abreast, oftentimes, it’s not safe and results in stacking of traffic behind you and, as may apply, your riding group. (My guess is it’s not you who are reading this). The information below re-publishes and re-orders prior posts which certainly continue to be relevant. Thanks to all for helping us all be safe and sound.
Motorists – Sharing the Road Sharing the road with bicyclists. When parked on the street, check for bicyclists approaching from behind you before opening your car door. Always exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person walking or bicycling. Always be vigilant when pedestrians are present, especially those with visual or physical impairments. Bicyclists are fully entitled to use the road and have the right to “take the lane” by positioning themselves at or near the center of the lane when needed to avoid hazards or if the lane is too narrow to safely travel side by side with motorists. Pass bicycles only when necessary and safe: pass to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear. When in doubt, wait until you can pass at a safe speed. Before making a right turn, let bicyclists clear the intersection. When turning left or entering a roadway, yield to oncoming bicyclists as you would to any vehicle. Some of you may have heard of the tragic death earlier this year of a cyclist in Stony Point. We also are concerned about the safety of walkers and pedestrians. While we implore drivers to observe speed limits and other rules of the road, we also wish to share with you rules and tips for cyclists and pedestrians some of which a Bedford resident compiled and sent to me.
Cyclists – Sharing the RoadNew York State law mandates the following related to cyclists: Travel WITH traffic (i.e. on the same side of the road) and obey all vehicle laws (stop at stop lights, etc.) Are not allowed on sidewalks Helmets (protective head gear) are required No headphones, ear buds, or other noise cancelling devices are allowed in more than 1 ear Horn/bell audible for 100 feet Lighting required a half hour before dusk until a half hour after dawn Cyclists are required to use appropriate hand signals.
Safety Tips for Walkers Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk always walk facing traffic.Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you during the daytime. At night, wear special reflective material on your shoes, cap or jacket to reflect the headlights of cars coming towards you.
Tips for Crossing the Street Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks. Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road. Stop and look left, then right, then left again, before you step into the street. If you see a car, wait until it goes by. Then look left, right and left again until no cars are coming. Keep looking for cars while you are crossing, and remember, walk, don’t run. If a car is parked where you are crossing, make sure there is no driver in the car. Then go to the edge of the car and look left-right- left again until no cars are coming.
Stop the Bleed Paramedics are trained and prepared to operate with law enforcement in active shooter situations. This additional stop the bleed program is intended to provide a level of basic quick action from the public before help arrives.We have certified trainers in this program and want to start offering it up to various public institutions such as schools. Click here for the booklet.
After Hours Rules for Commuter Lots Town of Bedford Residents that do not have a commuter parking permit are allowed to park for free in the commuter lots Monday to through Thursday from 6:00 pm to 5:00 provided that they have a resident parking decal. Parking is free on weekends to everyone starting on Fridays at 6:00 pm and on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Single Stream Recycling Bedford 2020 has been enormously successful in promoting Single Stream recycling having advocated its establishment and helped the community embrace it. As noted below under “Further News on Recycling”, Westchester County awarded Bedford its “Eco Award” for Bedford’s having the highest recycling rate in the County. We strive to further increase recycling rates. To that end representatives of Bedford 2020 and I met earlier this week with representatives of the carters serving Bedford. We are pleased to enjoy a strong partnership with the carters, without whom Single Stream would not be successful. We discussed various strategies for making further progress. I also explained that some residents had contacted me about disturbance from very early morning collections in residential neighborhoods. The carters are amenable to a simple change to the Town’s law providing that there be no pick-ups on Sundays and federal holidays and that pick up in residential neighbors be limited to Monday through Saturday between the hour of 7 AM and 7 PM. I will propose this change to the Town Board. Town Facilities for recycling, yard waste and E-wasteMost of the following services are free to Town residents: The Railroad Avenue Recycling Center is located at343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills, NY 10507.Hours are 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Carters are obligated to collect single stream recyclablesat your property along with trash for all customers. For those who wish to drop off recyclable materials,the Railroad Avenue Recycling Center accepts single stream recyclables(metal, plastic, glass, cardboard and paper).
Ewaste, Metals, Textiles; Trash Drop Off for Seniors Residents may bring electronic waste to the Recycling Center, but please note that for CRTs (TVs and old monitors), residents first must obtain from the coupon from the Town Clerk after paying a modest fee (to cover the costs to the Town). In addition, the Railroad Avenue Recycling Center accepts e-waste of all kinds (see below for details), bulk metals of all kinds, textiles, and trash for seniors (60+) who purchase Senior Refuse Coupons (book of 5 for $25) at the Town Clerk’s office. Each coupon can be used for up to a 33-gallon trash bag of household refuse (do not include recyclables in the refuse bag). Town Clerk Hours8:30 AM to 4:30 PMMonday – Friday321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills
Beaver Dam Yard Waste and Compost Facility The Town of Bedford Beaver Dam Compost Facility processes recyclable wood waste and leaves from the Town and provides beneficial reuse of the waste as compost and mulch. The facility provides an extremely cost effective method for this recycling as well as an environmental benefit of local recycling with minimal transportation requirements. It is open for residents to dispose of recyclable wood waste (logs and branches up to 6” diameter, brush, and leaves), as well as pick up wood mulch and leaf compost. This service is free to Town of Bedford residents between 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM Monday to Friday, excluding Town holidays.
Looking for an emergency volunteer opportunity butFire Fighting or Medical Tech not your thing? Emergency communications might be for you.Click here for the flyer
Katonah Fire Department under-18 Recruitment Program Are you interested in a terrific community service opportunity? Would you like to receive state-of-the art lifesaving and firefighting training?Katonah Fire Department eagerly welcomes applications from 16-year-olds for its Under 18 Program. Interested candidates can fulfill their John Jay High School Community Service obligation, as well as service hours required for other organizations, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Membership in the department as a firefighter is a great way to have your college application stand out as well! Any person who is between the ages of 16 and 18, who is physically fit, morally and mentally sound, and who, having met with the membership committee and satisfactorily passed the committee’s investigation (as established in the Katonah Fire Department, Inc. Constitution and By-Laws), may be selected for membership status. The goal of this program is to carefully instill, enforce, and monitor the practices that lead to well trained, respectful, hardworking members once they reach their 18th birthdays and/or the conclusion of their first year of membership. In addition, it creates a culture in which these members both realize their age- and experience-related limitations, but also feel as though they are learning and being prepared for taking on the duties of full-fledged, non-probationary members of the Katonah Fire Department. An oversight committee and a training coordinator act as a resource to these members – in all aspects of KFD membership: firefighting, training, rules and regulations, etc. – and set example for the types of behaviors expected from our entire membership. Applicants who join receive all training and equipment at no expense to them. They also become eligible for various scholarship opportunities. If you’re interested in finding out more, please sent an e-mail to email@example.com
The Town’s Website is now available in Spanish We have added a plug-in allowing for the website’s automatic translation to Spanish. Please note that this does not apply to linked PDF documents. http://www.bedfordny.gov/
A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”. Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review. I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them (for example, why the flags are flown at half-staff.
Apartments are getting smaller in much of the U.S., even as rents are rising.
The average size of newly built apartments in 2018 is 941 square feet, which is 5 percent smaller than it was a decade ago. For studio apartments, the change is more pronounced — they’re 10 percent smaller. Rents, on the other hand, have jumped 28 percent during the same time period, according to RENTCafe, a nationwide apartment search website.
“Changes in renters’ living habits are literally redrawing floor plans,” wrote Nadia Balint, senior marketing writer for RENTCafe. “The largest share of apartment dwellers, millennials, prefer living in locations close to restaurants and entertainment, rather than having a large kitchen or living room to cook or entertain at home.”
Higher rental costs today, however, have millennials looking for savings by renting smaller units, and developers are clearly responding. Micro-units are becoming more popular, following on the tiny-house trend, as millennials tend to be more environmentally conscious than previous generations. Apartment developers are supplementing the smaller units by adding more common spaces to their buildings, in which residents can both work and entertain.
“Across our 72,000-unit portfolio we have seen an increasing demand for relatively smaller units,” said Toby Bozzuto, CEO of apartment developer the Bozzuto Group. “We attribute this to a lifestyle shift that is based on our residents’ desire to be less encumbered by things. Our residents value flexibility and convenience, and appreciate a thoughtful approach to unit design.”
Despite an apartment construction boom in the last several years, occupancies remain high, and rents are still gaining. Yet rents are rising fastest for those who can afford it least. Rents for low-end properties, defined as those with rents less than 75 percent of the regional median, are gaining faster than luxury rentals, according to CoreLogic.
“We’ve seen a slight uptick in rent prices over the past few months as strong employment growth continues,” said Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic. “The strength stems from the low-to-middle price tier, which has seen monthly average growth of 3.2 percent since January 2018.”
All real estate is local, and so are size trends, apparently. Overall, including old and new apartments, the Southeast has the largest units in the nation, while California has the smallest. The average apartment size in California is 837 square feet, compared with 975 square feet in the Southeast.
California saw the biggest size decrease for newly built apartments, an average decline of 12 percent over the past decade. The Pacific Northwest as well as the Northeast are next, seeing 10 percent decreases. Only in the Midwest, where rents and demand are lowest, are apartment sizes increasing, up 1 percent in that time.
Of the nation’s largest cities, Seattle has the smallest apartment units, with an average size of 711 square feet. Manhattan and Chicago are second- and third-smallest. Tallahassee, Florida, boasts the largest units on average at 1,038 square feet. Marietta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, come in second- and third-largest.
While all types of floor plans are shrinking, new studio apartments are minimizing most at an average of just 514 square feet this year. Studios also represent a shrinking share of the rental market, just 5 percent of all units nationwide. One-bedrooms lead at 43 percent of the market, but their size is down 4 percent over the last decade. Two-bedroom apartments have not changed much, just 0.5 percent smaller on average.