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Public hearings set for Dec. 14 in Newstead

Three public hearings will be held before the Newstead Town Board’s next regular meeting on Dec. 14.

The first hearing, at 7:40 p.m., will be on the town’s contract with Amherst Fire Control. It’s a standard, three-year contract, Supervisor David Cummings said.

“We go with them to provide us with fire notification services,” he said.

The next hearing, at 7:45 p.m., will be on rescinding Local Law No. 5, which allowed the board to surpass the state’s 2 percent tax cap, in case the town needed to come in over the cap to maintain services. The 2016 budget came in just under the cap, which was actually 0.73 percent. In order for residents to receive a refund for the town being under the cap, the town has to rescind the law in order to be tax-freeze compliant, Cummings said. The state mandates that towns rescind laws allowing for an override of the tax cap, he said.

“They started that last year,” Cummings said.

The final hearing will be held at 7:50 p.m., and will pertain to changes to the town’s agribusiness law. The town has mulled over changes to the law for several months, Cummings said.

“It’s time to bring it to a public hearing,” he said.

The proposed changes would make the town friendlier to agribusiness by allowing pole barns for storage in residential-agricultural zoned districts, as well as permitting agribusiness and agritourism businesses to operate in residential-agricultural zoned districts in the town through a permanent special-use permit.

Agribusiness, agritourism and farm are also defined in the new law.

A public hearing on the proposed changes was held in August, with some residents expressing concern about the language of the law, while other residents fully supported the changes.

A previously planned public hearing on the law was canceled to allow for more time to review the changes, Cummings said.

In other board news, the work session scheduled for Monday was canceled.