County to seek state variances to build fire tower

Jun. 6—Delaware County will need to seek several state variances before the Bramley Mountain fire tower can be built, Economic Development Director Glenn Nealis announced.

Nealis made the announcement during the county's Economic Development Committee meeting Wednesday, June 5, as he gave an update on fire tower's progress. He said the town of Delhi code enforcement officer denied a building permit for the tower.

The permit was denied because the code office needed a current stamped engineer plan, more information on how the stairs would be secured into the foundation and the need for variances approved by the state Department of State Board of Review, Nealis said.

Nealis said the project engineer is working on the updated plans for the code enforcement officer, while the county will have to go before the board of review to seek variances encapsulating three different categories — emergency access road, bathroom facilities and handicapped accessible plans.

The land where the fire tower will be built is owned by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

The county secured a temporary land access permit from NYCDEP to build the tower on its property. Agreements with the town of Delhi, Friends of the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower — which has raised the funds necessary to rebuild the tower and will supply volunteers at the tower and the Clark family, which owns the dismantled tower — also were secured.

The state requires that fire trucks have access to the fire tower via an access road, Nealis said. There is an old logging/farm trail leading up to the tower, however it could not be improved well enough so a fire truck could drive up the hill. The grade is too steep and it can't be paved because the city won't allow more impervious soil on its property.

"It's steel," Harpersfield Town Supervisor Lisa Driscol said. "It's not going to burn."

Nealis said that is one reason the county is asking for a variance.

The county will apply for a variance so it doesn't have to provide toilet facilities at the tower, he said. The soil wouldn't be conducive to building a septic system at the property, it would be cost prohibitive to do so and the city wouldn't allow one to be built on the property.

The county will also apply for a variance as the fire tower and the hike up to the tower are not handicapped accessible.

Nealis said the county had to submit paperwork to the state by June 6 to be included on the board's June 20 agenda.

Driscoll asked if there was a chance the tower could be built this year if the county got the variances and the building permit. Nealis said there is a window in the contractor's schedule later in the summer, so it's possible.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.