New York state briefs

Staff reports

Penn Yan to study city idea

PENN YAN — The Penn Yan Village Board will be seeking proposals to study the issues — pro and con — connected with the village becoming a city.

Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. said after all the research he’s done so far, “Cities fare much better (than villages) as far as revenue goes.”

He later added, “If it’s good financially for the residents, then we, as a government, should pursue it.”

Marchionda says the most evident differences he’s found after reviewing a report from the New York Conference of Mayors are that the city court judge must be an attorney, and city court operations are subsidized by New York State.  He said the report also indicates a city needs to take over responsibility for property assessments. Currently, the village uses property assessments prepared by the towns of Milo, Benton and Jerusalem.

Trustees discussed an effort already underway to have discussions with county officials, beginning with the county legislature’s finance committee, about financial issues, including sharing of sales tax revenues with the village.

Yates County is one of the few counties in the state that does not share sales tax revenue with villages and towns inside its borders.

Over the past few months, Penn Yan Village officials have been vocal about the increasing amount of tax-exempt property inside the village as the county, school and other non-profit organizations expand.

Trustee Richard Stewart said he’s been in touch with officials in Wellsville, where the same issue has been studied, and he has also acquired a report from Cornell University.

E. Bloomfield adopts windmill law

EAST BLOOMFIELD — Tipping its hat to the town Planning Board members and critics who have jousted with them during the drafting of a windmill law, the Town Board on Monday unanimously passed a revised version on its second attempt.

The Town Board had passed the proposal back to the Planning Board in June following a public hearing during which residents aired objections.

Along with outdated technical language, windmill owner and Zoning Board of Appeals member Mark Thorn found the proposed tower height too low. He also said a setbacks of 1.5 times the height of a tower would make it hard to put windmills on smaller properties, thereby discouraging their use.

Critics did win better definitions of each class of windmill. The law has updated language on braking systems, tower and windmill design and positioning and most important, a revision from 100 to 130 feet for maximum tower height to the tip of a turbine blade. Higher towers generate more power, meaning a quicker payback for owners on their investments.

The tower setback from buildings, however, stays at 1.5 times a windmill’s height. Setbacks exist to protect dwellings and people from a tower collapse, but they can also rule out putting a windmill on some lots with existing buildings.

Supervisor Dodie Huber promised to revisit the windmill law as needed.

“If we suddenly have an influx,” said Huber, referencing the few applications for windmill sites in town, “we can certainly modify this law.”

Charges re-filed against father in baby’s death

CORNING —  Criminal charges have been re-filed against a Corning father whose wife allegedly caused the death of the couple’s young son.

Last week, Corning City Court Judge David Kahl dismissed a child-endangerment charge against 26-year-old Joshua Van Etten after a paperwork snafu prohibited the Steuben County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case as filed.

On Tuesday, Corning police served Van Etten with a criminal summons charging him with endangering the welfare of a child and making a false written statement, a new charge.

After the dismissal Aug. 21, attorney Susan BetzJitomir – whose partner, Terry Baxter, represents Joshua Van Etten –  said the prosecution likely would not re-file charges because it had been nearly two years since his initial arrest.

Joshua Van Etten was charged with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child after his son, 5-month-old Maxim, was allegedly assaulted by the boy’s mother in August 2006. Maxim died 13 months later.

Joshua Van Etten was charged because he failed to take his son to the doctor after the alleged attack, BetzJitomir said. He was not at home at the time of the alleged assault, she said.

Kristy Van Etten, 27, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. She allegedly shook the boy, causing the injuries that led to his death, the prosecution contends.

If convicted, Joshua Van Etten faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.