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State sues Ballston Town Board over water line

State sues Ballston Town Board over water line

Town may be in hot water
State sues Ballston Town Board over water line
Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

The Ballston Town Board is being sued by state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball for voting last year to extend a public water line meant for agricultural development to a 12-home subdivision off Goode Street — and persisting after receiving multiple warnings from the Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

Filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County, the suit seeks a permanent injunction from a judge barring the public water line connection. It  names the town of Ballston and Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak as defendants. 

The board’s May 31 vote to give the Falconer Lane subdivision access to town water “would permit conflicting land use patterns … by facilitating and stimulating non-farm growth in the agricultural district,” states an order from the Ag department served to the town on Sept. 20, which is included in the lawsuit. 

The suit was filed after the town notified the department of its intent to move forward with the water line extension — first on Nov. 21 of last year and again on Feb. 21, when the Town Board passed a resolution to file a final notice of intent to proceed.

The latest resolution ignored a Dec. 20 letter from the state department saying the work would constitute a “lateral extension of water service form the restricted water main,” the suit states. 

Lateral water connections for non-agricultural development were restricted by the Town Board in 2004, according to the suit. The water main runs along the west side of Goode Street.

“In connection with the town’s efforts to minimize adverse impacts of [the water line] to farm operations within the agricultural district, the town adopted a lateral restriction policy which limits water connections to agriculturally-related uses and existing non-agricultural uses,” the suit states. 

Reached Wednesday, Szczepaniak declined to comment on the suit. He suggested the Falconer Lane subdivision would be moving forward, however. 

“They’re going to be breaking ground here shortly,” he said. 

The town Planning Board previously approved the subdivision to be built with wells, not public water, according to a footnote in the lawsuit.

According to minutes from the meeting when the board approved the lateral hookup for the Falconer Lane subdivision, Szczepaniak, who voted in favor, said he consulted with the town’s attorney and “we we are doing everything legal.”

“He looks at the word ‘limiting’ laterals,” Szczepaniak said in the minutes, which are included in the lawsuit. “It does not say ‘excludes.’”

Councilman William Goslin, who also voted in favor, said it would be “poor government” not to provide the developer with public water “since he was told to further develop the project,” according to the minutes.

Councilman John Antoski, who voted no, said “two wrongs don’t make a right,” according to the minutes. “As it stands now, the prior resolutions are what we should adhere to.”

Councilman Chuck Curtiss, who also voted no, said extending the water line to the housing project in the agricultural district would contradict the town’s comprehensive plan.

In defending her “yes” vote, Councilwoman Kelly Stewart said the development would be built with or without public water.

“It prevents residents coming to the town board years from now saying they have no water due to bad wells and need to hook up to town water,” she said.

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