Flies, overgrown lakes dominate at Bethel meeting

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 8/4/21

BETHEL, NY — Around 20 people attended the Town of Bethel Town Board meeting on July 28, more than had attended in a long time.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people come out and …

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Flies, overgrown lakes dominate at Bethel meeting

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BETHEL, NY — Around 20 people attended the Town of Bethel Town Board meeting on July 28, more than had attended in a long time.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people come out and really care about what we do here,” said town board member Lillian Hendrickson.

Concerning flies

Michelle Grant, a resident of Bethel’s Lt. Brender Hwy., came before the town board on behalf of herself and of her neighbors, talking about an overwhelming number of flies infesting the area around their homes.

While there had always been flies in the area, she said, the problem had worsened over the last two years, to the point where doing anything outside was near impossible. The infestation threatened the area’s health along with its quality of life; flies could be vectors of disease, and the sanitation conditions that led to the infestation could harm local water sources.

The board was sympathetic, it said, but it didn’t have jurisdiction over the sanitation conditions on area farms. No one was sure which agency did: the Department of Agriculture and Markets? The Department of Health? The Department of Environmental Conservation?

Grant said she had contacted all the departments listed by the board and more without success.

Bethel supervisor Daniel Sturm promised that the board would send the various involved agencies a letter asking for help, hopeful that an official message from the town would receive a more helpful response.

Concerning Kauneonga Lake

Another Bethel resident, Mary Ellen, came before the board asking for help with milfoil in Kauneonga Lake.

Quality of life along the lake had gone down, she said, owing to the spread of plants like milfoil, algae and lilypads. She said the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had offered to come and give a presentation on how to take care of the lake and asked the board to invite it.

While the board said it would pass along any concerns, it expressed some skepticism that a visit from the DEC would occur, or that it was necessary. Town councilwoman Victoria Simpson said the DEC hadn’t seen a problem with the levels of milfoil in the lake the last time it came. And while the town could ask the DEC to come and present, said Sturm, the last time he’d talked with a DEC representative they said that they were unlikely to come if there was only one complaint.

“I can give you a hundred names in no time,” said Ellen.

Concerning property violations

The board also discussed progress in dealing with property maintenance violations.

Bethel Enforcement Officer Bette Jean Gettel updated the board on progress with violations on four different properties. Three of the properties had multiple vehicles parked on them which needed to be cleared away; two of them had agreed to clear their vehicles by early August (August 1 for the first, August 9 for the second), while the third had not been in communication. The fourth property violation, involving 200 unlicensed domesticated animals on four acres of land, was mentioned but not discussed.

The board decided that, if the properties were not cleared by the agreed dates, it would send the property owners final notices and proceed to a public hearing on Wednesday, August 25. At that public hearing, if the properties were still not cleared, the board would be prepared to step in, clear the properties itself, and charge the cost back to the property owners.

“One way or another... these properties are going to be cleared up,” said Sturm.

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