Friday, October 31, 2008

Bits With Bite?

“BOOKS WITH BITE” are on display at the Catskill Public Library. Among titles, in keeping with Halloween: Frankenstein, Vampire Academy, Cirque du Freak: Killers of the Dawn, Freaky Green Eyes, Trunks of Blood.

“THE ENGLISHNESS OF THOMAS COLE,” as expounded by Tim Barringer, professor of art history at Yale University, attracted a standing-room-only crowd, 130 strong, to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill last Saturday.

FORECAST: ELECTORAL LANDSLIDE. What is coming on Tuesday is much easier to predict now, in light of all polling data, than it was when we foretold it in this space, long before even the presidential nominating conventions, on March 3.

-------*Barack Obama’s tally of Electoral College votes probably will be higher than we guessed last week (n=333), what with Ohio (20 electoral votes) evidently coming his way, along with Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, plus one of Nebraska’s three EV’s. A more likely total for Mr Obama is 345. Or more.

*In the U.S. Senate, seven seats will pass from Republican to Democratic hands.

They are in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Alaska, North Carolina and either Minnesota or Oregon.

*In the U.S. House of Representatives, a Florida seat will pass from Democratic to Republican hands, while 15-plus seats elsewhere will go the other way, swelling the majority which the Democrats won in 2006.

*In New York State, two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will pass from Republican to Democratic hands. The newbies are Dan Maffei and Eric Massa. Moreover, one Republican-held seat in the State Senate will pass into Democratic hands.

*Locally, all incumbent office-holders will be re-elected. Conspicuous among them will be GreeneLand’s U.S.Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand. She will survive what has been a formidable, richly endowed challenge from Republican nominee Alexander (Sandy) Treadwell.

VENUE MOVED. Site of Saturday’s auction of those Catskill Creek Condominiums has been shifted from the Marriott Hotel in Teaneck NJ to the Holiday Inn in Sufferin NY. Still invited by auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co are bids on 20 units (originally priced at $280-$480,000) of which eight will be sold without reserve. This does not mean that the other units will only be sold if a predetermined minimum bid is received. It means that the vendor gets to decide, in light of the no-reserve sales, whether to accept bids on the other units.

From the auctioneer’s standpoint, this sale looks trivial. Next Sunday, Good & Company will invite bids on 30 condos and four penthouses in Palm Beach Gardens FL “starting at just $350,000!” and originally priced at $600,000 to $3,500,000. On November 13th, the Roseland Ranch, a 37-acre resort in Stanfordville NY (30 Papa Joe Way) goes on the block with “suggested opening bid of $1,500,000.”

ALSO COOKING, so to speak, is a local auction of the makings of a restaurant. The kitchen equipment and the tables and booths that formerly occupied Michael La Rosa’s deli, on Brandos Alley in Catskill, go up for sale at the Father & Sons storage facility next Friday (11/7). It is a matter of defaulting on a loan granted by Greene County. For information: 719-3540.

JOBLESS RATES. According to the State Labor Department, New York State’s rate of unemploymnent last month amounted to 5.8 per cent of the labor force. In September 2007 the figure was 4.5 per cent. Both figures are slightly lower than the nation-wide unemployment rates, of 6.1 per cent last month and 4.7 per cent in September 2007. The downturn in jobs occurred mainly in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. It coincided with gains in jobs in educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. According to Tom Wanamaker of Johnson News Service, moreover, GreeneLand’s unemployment rate last month, at 6.2 per cent, was higher than for Columbia and Dutchess counties (5.1% and 5.6%), and marked a jump from the 4.4 per cent rate in September of 2007.

COMING TO COXSACKIE’S WATERFRONT in the near future are a new inn, restaurant, office complex and retail space. They will be located in refurbished historic buildings on four adjacent properties on Mansion and Reed streets. The $1.2 million project’s developer, Thomas Giamboi, who made his pile in Austin TX before returning to his native New York and starting to dabble. After moving back east Mr Giamboi bought the historic Glen Falls House resort (circa 1902) in Round Top and then started looking for development opportunities. His Coxsackie project is supported in no small measure by a $260,00 low-interest Quantum Fund loan granted by the Greene County legislature (through the Government Operations Committee chaired by Karen Deyo) and in light of advice from the county’s Planning and Economic Development department).

EXPANDING, thanks to another Quantum Fund loan, this one for $135,000, is Cameo’s Restaurant in Athens. Joshua Lackie is using the loan to buy the building that houses the restaurant (southwest corner of Second and Washington Streets) and to add 1000 square feet of dining space.

ALSO RECEIVING Quantum Fund loans recently have been Guy Chirico, for improvements to his Scribner Hollow restaurant in Hunter, and Sandro Cognin, to help adapt the former Full Gospel Tabernacle on Main Street in Catskill for use as a round-the-clock Snap Fitness franchise. Quantum Fund below-market-rate loans (see ) involve matches provided by recipients along with job-creating promises.

PRIZES OFFERED. GreeneLand’s Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians invites school pupils to compose essays on “From Ireland to the Kentucy Derby: The History of Ireland in Horse Racing” or on “Celtic Tiger: What Is It?” 622-8219.

GOSSIP DEPT. “The Boss and the Teen” could be title of a sort of French movie that is being, well, enacted in GreeneLand. Meanwhile, suspicion of filing a false instrument may bring a local lawyer before the State’s Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Making Waves

--------------------------NEW VOICE? --------

Permission to operate a new community radio station for Greene and Columbia County listeners has been granted by the Federal Communications Commission. The license, authorizing a 3300-watt station occupying 90.7 on the Frequency Modulation dial, was granted to the non-profit arts group called free103point9, whose envisaged home is a 29-acre property in Acra called Wave Farm. (See the 10/3 posting of Seeing Greene).

--------Tom Roe, program director, said in a news release that the new non-commercial station will “give active, involved members of the community a chance to take the microphone, go on the air, and talk about what is going on in Greene and Columbia counties."

--------Daytime programs will cover “agriculture, hunting, schools, arts, music, politics, and other issues important to the community.” Evening programs will beam “live web streams of events (games, performances, meetings, lectures) all over the two counties.” Late night and Saturday broadcasts would be devoted to “international radio art, experimental music, and special local broadcasts.”

--------Satellite studios for FM90.7 will be located in the Catskill Community Center and in Columbia County, Mr Roe added. And “workshops to train citizen journalists and reporters” will be offered next year at various locations, before broadcasting begins in 2010.

-------Helping as an advisory council to plan the station’s operations are Dharma Dailey, of Ethos Wireless in Palenville; Max Goldfarb, a Hudson-based artist; Hosneara Kader, of Hudson Family Literacy; Debra Kamecke, Cairo Public Library director; Alan Skerrett, of Columbia County’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Hudson Talbot, vice-president of the Catskill Community Center; and Andy Turner, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center.

-------Prospective participants in planning, grant-seeking and future operations can contact Mr Roe at or 518-622-2598.

------------------------------THE PERMIT BATTLE

--------Broadcasting from the contemplated new Acra studio of the new radio station may depend on the outcome of a lawsuit in which a State Supreme Court judge is asked to nullify or reverse a “purported” decision by the Cairo Planning Board.

--------“Plaintiff-petitioners” in the civil action are Galen Joseph-Hunter, owner of the 29-acre wooded property known as Wave Farm (and wife of Tom Roe), and the non-profit corporation called free103point9, which is a vehicle for radio broadcasting and other activities that come under the heading “transmission art.”

--------Named as “defendant-respondents” are the Town of Cairo, its governing Board, its Planning Board, and each member of the Planning Board. Direct target of the plaintiffs is a “purported” September 8th resolution adopted on a 4-2 vote by the Planning Board, rejecting the plaintiffs’ site plan application. The plan contemplates the establishment at Wave Farm of a two-story center for radio broadcasting and other “transmission art” activities, including special events in the summer.

--------In legal parlance the Wave Farm lawsuit is an Article 78 proceeding, whereby a Supreme Court judges can nullify “arbitrary and capricious” decisions made by local governing boards.

--------(Coinciding with the Wave Farm case is another Cairo-based Article 78 proceeding. In this case Ellsworth “Unk” Slater and other plaintiffs accuse the Town Board of “arbitrary and capricious” conduct in their adoption of a sewer improvement resolution that was pivotal for the fate of the proposed real estate development—commercial and residential—known as Alden Terrace).

--------Characterizing the Planning Board’s decision as legally spurious as well as arbitrary and capricious, the plaintiffs contend that:

*”Malicious bad faith” and “ill will” fueled the Board’s “irrational and arbitrary” treatment of the Wave Farm principals.

*The purported resolution as filed with the Town Clerk was not a valid one, recording a formal vote taken at a duly prepared regular meeting, with reasons given.

*The Board did not formally reject the site plan application, but instead only voted down a motion to approve.

*The Board acted only after the end of a prescribed 62-day limit, whereas relevant local law prescribes that applications not resolved within that period shall be deemed accepted.

*The Board deliberately stalled in its early handling of the matter, in order to handle the case under a new site plan law rather than the law that prevailed when the Wave Farm application was first made.

--------An account of the Planning Board’s action was posted on the October 3rd installment of Seeing Greene. Included in that report were adverse comments made by internal dissenters as well as outsiders. Soon afterward, Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea circulated to Board members and other Cairo officials a warning against making public comments on the matter, in light of the prospect of litigation. His message was characterized by at least one recipient as a “gag order,” although it did not come from a judge or a municipal executive. It may have deterred dissident Planning Board members from reiterating beliefs that could support the petitioners’ complaint.

--------The case has been assigned to Judge Joseph C. Teresi.

--------On Tuesday, Albany attorney Michael J. Murphy, representing the various defendants, submitted to the Court a Verified Answer to the plaintiffs’ Complaint. Judge Teresi is scheduled to take up the case in mid-November, starting with deciding whether the plaintiffs’ cited causes of action suffice to warrant further judicial proceedings.

Friday, October 24, 2008

By the Numbers, Or Not

CATS BACK. There WILL be another Cat ‘n Around show next summer. Directors of the Catskill Chamber of Commerce decided (10/21) to go ahead with a promotion that is geared to the Hudson Valley’s quadricentennial celebration. Riverside communities will be invited to sponsor cat designs that evoke distinctive traits of their municipalities. And (in keeping with a brainstorm from merchant David Miles) Main Street will be dressed to evoke the majestic Hudson River, with crosswalks painted to resemble the various bridges.

25,000=dollars to be distributed to good causes, by Catskill’s Chamber of Commerce, out of profits from this year’s Cat ‘n Around auction. Recipients will be the Barry Hopkins Memorial Scholarship program (for a Catskill High School graduate pursuing an arts-releated higher degree), Animalkind, the Aging Services Foundation of Greene County, four families chosen by the Community Action agencies (help in the “Here Comes Christmas” program), the Love ‘n Care pet sanctuary, the Catskill Soccer Club (to help build a new field on land donated by Holcim Cement, at the corner of Route 9W and Embought Road), the Fortnightly Club (to replace Elliott Park playground), and the God’s Storehouse food pantry.

62=number of families that received food supplies from God’s Storehouse, a Catskill Wesleyan Church program, last January.

352=number of families, as tallied by Mary Ivers, that received food supplies from God’s Storehouse last month.

NEW O’. The Catskill luncheonette that had been O’Fratello’s (“Squat & Gobble”) until recently now is O’Henry’s. Proprietor Henry Tice of South Cairo brought that name along from his former Saugerties establishment. The interior look has improved. Open from 5:30am to 3pm.

4700=dollars raised by Catskill Kiwanians at auction and dinner last Sunday (10/19), at Catskill Golf Club, thanks to donors of goods and services (and cash). The money will be recirculated to kid-related good causes.

17=cents of quarterly dividend per share just declared by the parent company of the Bank of Greene County. It’s not a piddling sum. If total dividends for the year are 68 cents (17 cents every quarter), then the return for shareholders, based on the current market price ($11.50), would be close to 6 per cent. Moreover, the bank’s impending earnings report will be salutary. Community banks, unlike the biggies, are doing OK.

333=our guess of the number of Electoral College votes, out of 538, that will go, in consequence of the November 4th presidential election, to Barack Obama. Moreover, seven U.S. Senate seats that are currently occupied by Republicans will be won by Democrats, and 17 seats in the House of Representatives will pass from Republican to Democratic hands. If those numbers do eventuate, they will vindicate what we predicted eight months ago (Seeing Greene, 3/3/08).

DAILY MAUL --“Each year there are a vast number of….”

--“ State Police charged Deandre Hall, 34, of Catskill, with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after refusing to leave room number 28 of the Catskill Inn.”

--“Besides his militia service, Hale was also active in public service before….”

--“Firefighter Bob Abahamson walks passed a line of fellow firefighters….”

--“The principle focus of chiropractic care is assessment and manual treatment of the …spne.”

--“Statistics show back pain incurs an enormous burden on society….”

RUMORS DEPT. >>>That a new DVD-peddling store will open soon in GreeneLand, run by a known smut peddler. >>>That a leading GreeneLand car dealer’s divorce was extraordinarily bitter. >>> That those extended hours at Catskill High School have been meagerly utilized so far. On a recent night when the place was staffed by two monitors (at $14-$16 per hour), by a teacher aide ($16), and by a teacher ($27), one kid came in to shoot baskets. >>>That Gov. David Paterson is afflicted with Dangling Constructionitis. Symptomatic of that malady are successive sentences in an e-mail message he dispatched (10/16) to “Friends”: “As a graduate of Hempstead High School and Hofstra Law School, it felt like the debate took place in my own backyard. And as the proud Governor of New York, the commission could not have picked a better state for the final debate.” >>>That the publisher of Hudson-Catskill Newspapers will subject present employees and future hires to a literacy test. (Many rumors, remember, are false).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fallen EverGreene

GONE, at 91 years of age, after military service and steadfast support for fellow veterans, after six books of local history and countless articles and newsletters (drafted in longhand), after teaching in and out of classrooms, after leading the Greene County Historical Society for five decades, after saving from oblivion the Catskill home and workplace of pioneering artist Thomas Cole, after living frugally and investing wisely and then giving money generously to good causes, after blushing and balking over awards heaped on his frail head, after—in short--an exemplary career of service to GreeneLand and to his country: Raymond Beecher.

EXOTICA DEPT. Among its many distinctions, GreeneLand is world headquarters for a business whose production centeris Lamu. That island (do follow the hyperlink!) is just north of Zanzibar, just south of the recently publicized pirates’ sanctuary off Somalia, winter home of a few Europeanobs such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, retirement paddock for superannuated donkeys, and home to veteran Kenyan craftsmen who specialize in making tables and other items of furniture from their island’s abundant mahoganies. A big order for their individually crafted, dated and numbered, tables is currently being filled for the mammoth Sands Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau, China. And presiding over this global Solid Mahogany business is Bo van den Assum of, ahem, Catskill NY. Mr van den Assum’s office and workroom occupy a shed at 8 West Bridge Street, behind Mountain T-Shirts.

THIRTY-SIX YEARS ago, four Catskill women decided that their town needed a swimming pool. Nan Guterman, Nancy Ursprung, Sara Wolven and Julie Myshral formed a non-profit corporation called The Swimming Pool League for Safety and Health (SPLASH) and they proceeded to raise funds. Two plays written and produced by Ms Guterman brought in $25,000. A raffle and bake sales yielded another $8000. Since $33,000 was not sufficient, and since no municipal grants were available in thos days, the women bought Certificates of Deposit whose value, in the ensuing 14 years, through double-digit inflation, grew to $100,000. In 1998, Ms Guterman’s husband Jack joined the SPLASH board and suggested a change of direction: using the foundation’s income to support local causes. That suggestion was adopted, along with a change of name following the death, in 2000, of the founder. In the past ten years the Nan Guterman Foundation has helped the Catskill Community Center, the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation, Hospice, the Columbia-Greene Community College Foundation, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the Catskill Education Foundation, the Greene County Council on the Arts, Little League, the Babe Ruth League, and Friends of Beattie-Powers Place.

BIODIESEL. All or some of what you ever wanted to know may be available locally, thanks to a new co-op (headed by Michelle Richardson of Grazin’Angus Acres in Ghent) whose members brew diesel from waste vegetable oil. Interested GreeneLanders can learn more from

FLU SHOTS for adults will available soon, at various sites, from the county’s Public Health Department, at no cost to Medicare members ($21 for non-members). Also, pneumonia shots will be available for seniors. Locations and dates: Washington Irving Senior Center, Catskill, this Wednesday (10/15); Jewett Senior Center 10/17; Coxsackie Senior Center, 10//24; Tannersville Village Hall, 10/27; Acra Senior Center 10/28; Athens Senior Center, 10/29.

THE WEEKEND. Check and for information about farmers’ markets (Catskill, New Baltimore, East Durham), Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain, a meatball contest (among other things) in Windham, Saturday Stroll in Catskill (photo history of town & village, art, hayrides, pumpkins, Halloween scares, Community Orchestra concert), Ginseng Festival (Sunday)….

DAILY MAUL. “The Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department recently removed two horses that were considered to be starved and mistreated from a Columbia County location.” “The arrest stems from [reported burglary] at the Catskill Country Club in Palenville. An investigation revealed that at approximately 4 a.m. the Country Club was been broken into….” “The settlement comes from an assessment challenge by city officials and Supervisor Dennis Lucas said that the agreeable value came about through problem solving strategies….”

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Title Search

“BE GREENE WITH ENVY” is the title of an article (by Amy Lubinski) in the latest Chronogram magazine. It is billed as the first in a six-part series on GreeneLand.

“FROM FARMHOUSE TO FABULOUS” is the title of the cover story in the Life-Home section of the TimesUnion last Saturday (10/4). It’s all about an early-nineteenth century riverside home that has undergone a lavish transformation as designed by architect Scott Wallant for summer residents Richard and Jean Bassin. They call the place Bassinova.

“DIANE KEATON: The Actress’s Passion for Art and Design Are On Display in Her Beverly Hills Residence” is the title of the cover story in the current (“November”; “Hollywood at Home”) issue of Architectural Digest, with many pictures featuring interiors of the lady’s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Beverly Hills, as designed by GreeneLand’s Stephen Shadley. “Stephen is a fantastic collaborator,” says Ms Keaton, “and he…makes people feel good about what they’re doing to their homes.”

“WOODY ALLEN: On New York’s Upper East Side, An Old World Feel for the Writer and Director” is the title of another article in the current A.D., with lots of pictures of interiors as designed by—who else?—Stephen Shadley, who “was introduced to Allen by their mutual friend Diane Keaton.”

PRINCESS TEA PARTIES is the title of an incipient book by GreeneLander Janeen (“Cooking With Class”) Sarlin. Targeted for girls aged 4 through 10, it offers guidance on decorations, costumes, crafts, food, and beverages suitable for specially themed tea parties: African Princess, Lotus Princess, Cowgirl Princess, Indian Princess, and so on. Publication by Chronicle Books of San Francisco is set for June 2009.

“PRESIDENT of the New York State Magistrates Association” is the official title acquired recently by GreeneLander Richard Roberg. As reported in The Daily Mail (10/5/08), the association represents the State’s part-time Town and Village judges, in whose company, in Coxsackie, since 1981, Judge Roberg has belonged. He also is a retired teacher of high school mathematics.

BAILOUT FALLOUT. GreeneLand’s U.S. Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, voted Nay on the so-called “bailout” bill last Monday (9/29), and she voted Nay again on Friday’s revised version. So did neighboring Ulster County’s Representative, Maurice Hinchey. They accordingly did not join the 58 Representatives--33 Democrats ( including 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus), 25 Republicans—who switched from Nay to Yea.

------On both occasions, Ms Gillibrand and Mr Hinchey parted company with the Hudson region’s other Representatives (Mike McNulty, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, John Hall), and from all but one of the 22 other Democrats in the 29-member New York State delegation. On both occasions, too, they bucked the recommendations of the Bush Administration, their Congressional leaders, their home State’s U.S. Senators (Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer), and their presidential nominee (Barack Obama).

-------Ms Gillibrand’s votes were not assailed by her electoral challenger. In successive statements the Republican candidate in the 20th district, Sandy Treadwell, said he would have voted against the revised “bailout” bill as well as the original, which “should have been tossed out completely.”--

-------In a Press release, Ms Gillibrand characterized the original version of the bill as “not the right approach” to economic rescue; it “has insufficient oversight and protections and does not address the root causes of the crisis or the poor economy.” She later said that the revised version still was “fundamentally flawed.” She did not identify what provisions would have made the bill acceptable to her. She did not post her statements on her web site.-------

-------Mr Hinchey did post his comments, saying the bailout bills did not do enough in the way of “real regulation” of financial markets and of job-promoting direct “economic stimulus” provisions.

-------Congressional voting on the bills exhibited odd alignments. Staunch opposition came from reputed arch-“conservatives” such as Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts of Kansas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, as well as from former Republican Representatives Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. At the same time, some of the steadfast opponents were reputedly arch-“liberals” such as Senators Russ Feingold (Wisconsin) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio).

-------David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist who is usually classified as a centrist conservative, stigmatized the 228 Representatives who voted Nay on Monday as adherents of a “revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed.”


532 = cost in cents to post a message by certified mail (return receipt required), even if it only travels a half-mile and is part of a bundle of messages to nearby addresses.

66 = number of addressees of a certified mail message that went out from Catskill post office in early September. The message notified recipients that a meeting of the Catskill Village Zoning Board of Appeals would be held on September 15th at the Washington Irving Senior Center, in the matter of variances sought for the Union Mills Lofts project on Water Street.

35112 cents=cost of that mailing, billed to variance applicant.

500 = number of feet from Union Mills site defining outside limit of eligibility to receive notice of Planning Board hearing on variances. (In other words, all owners of properties located within 500 feet of subject site shall by law receive such notices).

0 = number of addressees who came to the hearing.

66=number of addressees to whom certified mail notices were sent again, at $5.32 apiece, following the no-turnout meeting. The notices announced a second ZBA hearing on Union Mills matters, on October 1.

0=number of neighbors who attended the October 1 meeting.

“DEVELOPER’S SELLOUT.” Twenty condominium units of the Catskill Creek development are going up for auction. Three- and four-bedroom dwellings, originally priced in the range of $280,000 to $480,000, will be offered for bid on November 1st at the Teaneck NJ Marriott Hotel by SheldonGood & Co, whose publicity touts a “fabulous auction event” offering a“truly unique opportunity” to achieve “affordable access” to “the vacation mecca of the Hudson Valley” and to “the wondrous Catskill community.” Eight units, ranging in size from 1600 to 1900 square feet, will be offered without reserve price. Successful bidders must pay the auctioneer a fee (euphemistically called a buyer’s premium) amounting to 10 per cent fee of the sale price. They also become responsible for condo fees of $247 per month. The units, located off the south end of Main Street in Catskill, will be open for inspection on weekends before the auction date.

THE B.I.G. CAMPAIGN is under way. Visitors to Catskill Point for Saturday’s farmers’ and artisans’ market, plus the spicy Chili Cook-Off, were welcomed by county legislator Karen Deyo with gifts of special “Think BIG” shopping bags touting the Buy In Greene campaign. The idea is eminently worthy of support. But when locally baked bread is priced at the market at $5.75 per loaf, and big cookies (such as chocolatey “Chip Van Winkles”) at $2 and $2.50, and tamales at $4 apiece, and apple pies at $20, and so on, it’s not easy being Greene.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Signal Delayed?

Cairo Planners Block Site Plan

------Members of Cairo’s Planning Board voted recently on a long-running site plan application that may have already been settled. Four of them voted against, and two voted for, permitting Galen Joseph-Hunter and her husband, Tom Roe, to use their rural property to cultivate a novel form of art. The members voted after hearing a claim that their time limit for acting on applications--62 days following end of public hearing-- had been exceeded; after that, site plans become legally valid.

------Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea advised the Board that the tardiness claim is untenable. The applicants would then have recourse to State Supreme Court, where they would contend in an “Article 78” proceeding that they have been subjected by the Board to treatment that is arbitrary and capricious.

------That line of argument has already elicited local support.

------Mr Roe and Ms Joseph-Hunter, as principal organizers of free103point9, propose to use their Wave Farm land to foster “transmission arts” (identified on sites that are accessible on Google and Yahoo). Their site plan envisions a two-story study center housing an apartment for visiting artists, a library, the main studio of a community radio station (connected to other studios in Catskill and Hudson), and a small outdoor stage. Disposed around the grounds would be sculptures (or installations) that blend visual and auditory experiences. Special public events, on a few Summer Saturdays each year, would attract 75-125 visitors.

------Such gatherings took place, duly permitted, in 2005, 2006 and 2007--not long after Ms Joseph-Hunter and Mr Roe moved from Brooklyn. They were held near the unfinished headquarters building whose design resembles the Agroforestry Research Center in nearby Acra. It occupies a corner of the heavily wooded 29-acre property that is near Highway 23 and is screened from neighbors’ sight. Supporting the Wave Farm application when it finally came to a vote on September 3 were Planning Board members Terry McSorley and Allen Veverka. Voting to reject were the chairman, Peter Maassmann, along with Dan Benoit, Edward Forrester (alternate member) and Ray Pacifico.

------Their rejection, as well as their treatment of the Wave Farm applicants in preceding months, have sparked strong local criticism.

-------In the estimation of Mike Coyne, a former county legislator and district school board member who has monitored the case, Mr Roe and Ms Joseph-Hunter “did exactly as they were told to do” by Planning Board members and by town officials, in the course of many months, only to be confronted by costly, “unprecedented” pretexts for obstruction. The members who rejected the Wave Farm application “threw their scruples right out the window.”

-------Similar criticism was voiced to Seeing Greene by Mr McSorley. Planning Board leaders, he said, compelled the applicants “to go through things—jump through hoops—that they’d never required anybody else to do, ever.” They exploited a new Site Plan Review law just to make compliance much harder for Wave Farm than for other permit seekers. Choosing “to please old friends regardless of what’s fair,” they demonstrated that “what you [can] do [in Cairo] depends on who you know more than the desirability, or even the legality, of what you propose.”

------Also indignant over the majority’s action was another Planning Board member, Mike Villela, who missed the decisive vote on account of job obligations but who submitted a letter of endorsement.

-------The applicants, Mr Villela wrote, are “good people” who “have gone to great lengths over the past 10 months to demonstrate their willingness to work through the planning process.” They “have addressed every concern which we have raised.” Using provisions of the town’s new Site Plan law as an excuse for disapproval, he warned, would “speak poorly of our ability to run an effective and unbiased planning process” and would expose the Board, and the Town, to a lawsuit.

-------Chairman Maassmann refused to put Mr Villela’s letter in the record.

-------Mr Veverka declined to comment directly on the majority’s conduct. At the same time he expressed to Seeing Greene “hopes that the people of the Wave Farm will continue to work with the town to bring in new and innovative thoughts and culture…. I commend them on their conduct through the process and even though they were not approved I hope to see them move ahead and enlighten the town with their goals.”

-------In accusing the Board majority of bias against the Wave Farm project, critics particularly cite the activities of another Board member: Frank Pambianchi. Mr Pambianchi recused himself last February from participating formally in Board deliberations, citing a conflict of interest stemming from proximity of his brother Andrew’s acreage property to Wave Farm. He attended public Board hearings, however, and he and other family members mounted an aggressive campaign of opposition. While shunning invitations to deal directly with the applicants, or to take part in mediations, Pambianchis urged Cairo residents and their close Planning Board friends to view Wave Farm as a likely source of unwanted noise, dirt, alien structures, trash and unsavory visitors.

-------Those and other apprehensions are reflected in the Board majority’s resolution of rejection. That decision, unfolded in a 24-page document, is not accessible on Cairo’s official web site, which seems to be moribund. (Its Planning Board sub-section names the members, names September 3 as the anticipated next date of a meeting, and in the “News” link—titled “All the Recent from the Planning Board”--says “There is no news in the Database!” Similarly, in the Town Board section, the title “All the Recent from the Town Board” is followed by the same exclamation).