5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan – Democrat & Chronicle

5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan

by: Sarah Taddeo

Verizon Wireless is looking to erect a cell tower behind a Pittsford church, sending some neighbors into an uproar about possible ill effects of the building project. Here’s what you need to know about the proposed tower before a town public hearing on Monday.

Where is it being proposed?

The approximately 100-foot tower, which will be disguised as a tree, is proposed for a small backyard plot of land owned by the United Church of Pittsford, on State Route 64, or South Main Street, just south of the village. The church owns the land, which is zoned Residential Neighborhood, and Verizon would lease the plot with the intention of building a tower that would be used  by several mobile phone service carriers.

Why is a cell tower needed?

The new equipment will improve the quality of life for those living, working and traveling in Pittsford by helping them connect to Verizon’s cell network, according to an emailed statement from Verizon.

Jimmy Reader, pastor of United Church of Pittsford, said many congregation members have experienced cell reception issues in the general area.

“We feel it’s good for the community because most of us have a really hard time having good connection with Verizon,” he said. A Verizon service map provided with the tower application shows several sparsely covered spots south and east of Pittsford village.

What’s the process of approval?

Church members heard about the concept several years ago, when Verizon was looking for a new tower location in Pittsford, said Reader. There are at least four cell reception antennas or towers in the immediate town/village area, based on the Verizon coverage map, and there are 13 total cell towers in the Town of Pittsford, said Town Supervisor Bill Smith.

The congregation voted unanimously to allow Verizon to build on church property in early 2016, said Reader, but the project application, submitted to the town last month, needs approval from the Planning Board to move forward.

The tower proposal is different from other development proposals in that tower siting is regulated under federal law, said Smith.

Essentially, the town can’t regulate in a way that would prohibit Verizon from providing cell service to the area. The town must then work with the provider to find a suitable location for a cell tower or antenna in a general area within a reasonable amount of time — in this case, 150 days from when the application is submitted — to ensure proper cell coverage, said Smith.

Board members can raise concerns about a specific site and ask Verizon to provide information about other site options, which they’ve already done in this case.

If the board denies this application, it must provide substantiated reasons in writing. Because the board asked Verizon to clarify pieces of the application, the 150-day clock has been put on hold until the board’s questions are addressed, said Smith.

What do neighbors think?

Several nearby residents feel the installation and its accompanying infrastructure could disrupt the neighborhood.

Mary Carafos, who lives on South Main Street across from the church, said neighbors didn’t get enough notice about the project, though legal notices appeared in the local newspaper and on the town website. Several colorful signs dot her front yard in view of the road, emblazoned with sayings like “No Cell Tower” and offering project information to passers-by.

Verizon is looking to place the tower in a residential neighborhood, while some other area towers are in industrial or agricultural settings, she said. “There’s got to be a better location for it,” she said.

Melissa Peets, whose yard backs up to the church parking lot, said she’s worried about noise emitting from generators that may be installed with the tower, and the effect the whole project could have on local wildlife. She added that she’s never experienced Verizon reception issues in the neighborhood.

What’s next?

A public hearing is planned for the proposal at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at Pittsford Sutherland High School, 55 Sutherland Street. The town will hear public comment as part of its continued review of the application.

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Companies taking the heat off homeless families in Rochester – 13wham.com

Companies taking the heat off homeless families in Rochester

by: WHAM

Brighton, N.Y. (WHAM) – A group that provides emergency housing for those in need got some help Tuesday with summer in mind.

TemPro, an outreach arm of Temple B’rith Kodesh provides temporary housing for homeless men, women and families in Rochester.

 Johnstone Supply and Friedrich Air Conditioning teamed up Tuesday to provide TemPro with air conditioning units for its 11 housing units in the Marketview Heights neighborhood.

“This is a project right up our alley,” said Ken Livingston, who works with Johnstone Supply. “Not only is it an opportunity to provide cooling and serve a community that’s in need, but we are also providing them with an energy efficient solution. These are Energy Star- and all using the latest refrigerant out there to lower global warming. That means lower operating costs.”

Jerry Zakalik, president of TemPro, said he is glad to see homeless people in Rochester getting some much-needed attention.

“Homelessness is a major concern in this area. It takes organizations and individual efforts to chip in together to see if we can help and provide for them.”

TemPro helps about 150 families each year.

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California homeless veterans move into apartment built from recycled shipping containers – www.foxnews.com

California homeless veterans move into apartment built from recycled shipping containers

An apartment complex built entirely of recycled shipping containers in California is providing shelter for homeless veterans.

Potter’s Lane, located in Midway City, Calif., was built by the American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and assistance to those in need, according to its website.

Potter’s Lane is the first multi-family structure to be built entirely from recovered shipping containers – but it will not be the last. In November, Los Angeles residents voted and approved a $1.2 billion bond to construct shelters for the homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times. There are plans to build more sustainable complexes.

The $1,200 per month rent is largely subsidized, Steven Forry, American Family Housing’s chief development officer, told CBS News.

Sixteen studio apartments were built from 48 recycled shipping containers. The complex, which took six months to complete, was purposely made small so the residents can connect with one another.

“When you’re dealing with people who have been homeless and you warehouse them in 300 units, you are not creating a safety net for people, you are not creating a human connection with people,” Forry said. “The concept here is called housing first. Find a home for them like we found here and then you surround them with social services.”

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With more flooding at hand, shoreline aid is on the way – Democrat & Chronicle

With more flooding at hand, shoreline aid is on the way

by: Steve Orr

Note: This story contains updated information received Monday afternoon from state officials.

As residents of the Lake Ontario shoreline prepare for yet another round of flooding, word has arrived that government aid is on the way.

State aid to lakeshore residents whose homes have been damaged by the record high water could begin flowing in a couple of weeks.

Federal assistance is being offered as well, though one element sought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — aid to help rebuild battered breakwalls — has turned out to be a non-starter.

The water level in Lake Ontario has been far above normal since March, with the worst erosion and flooding taking place when strong northerly winds push larger waves toward the south shore.

At least 10 such episodes have occurred along the shoreline.

What could be the worst one yet, with waves of up to 6 feet slamming the shore in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties, is forecast for late Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a lakeshore flood warning for those three counties, effective at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Hundreds of property owners in shoreline communities have already suffered damage to homes from surging water or the pounding action of waves.

Cuomo visited hard-hit Edgemere Drive in Greece last Monday to inspect flood damage and to announce that the state would make $7 million in grant money available to help shoreline home owners repair structural damage to homes and cottages.

Four established nonprofit housing groups already have been enlisted to administer the program — taking in claims from homeowners, overseeing the work and seeing to it that funds are disbursed.

State officials say they are fast-tracking the Lake Ontario recovery program and money could begin flowing to contractors and homeowners in a matter of weeks.

 ““The governor is committed to making this $7 million in assistance available to homeowners as quickly and easily as possible,” said Jamie Rubin, Cuomo’s state operations director. This initiative builds on the more than $20 million the state has provided to Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities since flooding began.”

Cuomo also said last Monday that he had asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help residents rebuild or improve breakwalls and the strategically placed boulders known as riprap.

Many of the protective structures have been damaged or destroyed by waves over the last three months. Many others have been shown to be inadequate for water that has been as much as 3 feet above the long-term average.

Three new virtual reality adventures each week.

But Corps of Engineers officials, who have just released details of the planning and construction aid they can provide to address future flooding, say their mission is to protect public infrastructure, not private homes.

“We don’t do work for private property,” spokesman Michael Izard-Carroll said Monday.

The Corps has no objection if a project to protect public infrastructure incidentally helps nearby private owners too, he said.

In the spring and summer of 1973, the Corps of Engineers did a considerable amount of work to bolster shoreline protection of private land, placing stone-filled wire baskets or piles of boulders along 11 sections of shoreline in Monroe County alone.

Many current lakeshore residents remember that work, or have heard about it, and many have peppered Corps’ officials with requests that they perform similar work now.

But the situation in 1973 was different, Izard-Carroll noted. Water was high throughout the Great Lakes the previous winter and shoreline flooding was anticipated in many locations, allowing the Corps to tap flood-prevention funds.

That was not possible this time around, when the water level spiked in March with no forewarning.

“As far as the collective memory goes, people know the Corps did something (in 1973),” he said. “But they don’t know how to distinguish between different programs.”

The Corps has provided technical assistance to state and local governments to help with the current flooding, but is shifting to a forward-looking mode.

The Corps could, for instance, provide design and construction funding for work to protect against future flooding of public infrastructure such as roads and sewer systems and to protect against future erosion or damage to public shoreline.

It also can help communities develop long-term plans to guard against future high-water episodes.

State or local governments must share the cost of those undertakings.

Those same local governments will take the lead in the $7 million program announced by Cuomo to help shoreline residents recover from flooding.

Some highlights of how that program will work, provided by state officials:

  • Four nonprofits will oversee the program. In Monroe and Wayne counties, it will be Sheen Housing; in Orleans, it’s Pathstone.
  • Homeowners will file claims with those nonprofits, which will assess each claim, determine if the work is eligible and help identify contractors to do the work. The nonprofits also inspect the work and certify that it was done correctly.
  • Reimbursement is available for work already done. Capable homeowners can do the work themselves and seek reimbursement for material costs.
  • The nonprofits can keep up to 10 percent of awards to cover overhead.
  • Homeowners are eligible for up to $40,000 for work that is not covered by insurance except for seniors, for whom there is no cap. But the maximum grant is adjusted for income. For instance, assistance to a two-person household in Monroe County with annual income over $82,300 would be capped at $25,000.

Whether $7 million will cover all the claims filed by residents in eight shoreline counties remains to be seen.

A bill passed in the state Senate would provide $20 million in damage-recovery aid for residents, and one pending in the state Assembly would provide $40 million for that purpose.

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Stop mold from lurking in your basement “WHY DO I GET MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?” – Democrat & Chronicle

Stop mold from lurking in your basement

“WHY DO I GET MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?”

“Why do I get mold in my basement?”

For Paul Wagner, owner of Comprehensive Mold Management in Rochester, it’s one of the most common questions he gets.

Wagner says it comes down to two main problems: too much humidity, and ground-water drainage issues.

For the first problem, Wagner advises customers to use a good dehumidifier to keep the basement’s humidity levels below 45 percent.

That usually leads to the next common question: “Do I need to run my basement dehumidifier all the time?”

The answer is, “Yes.”

A good quality dehumidifier like the Santé Fe Classic (see this blog on choosing a dehumidifier) can be set to a 45 percent relative humidity. Once set, the unit will shut off when it doesn’t need to run.

If you don’t run a dehumidifier in your basement on a regular basis, all of your belongings in the basement will take on moisture. With the lack of air flow and the high levels of moisture found in basements, your belongings will take on a musty smell and mold growth.

It’s important to have a dehumidifier that’s large enough for the size of your basement and the amount of belongings you have. Wagner says that Comprehensive Mold Management can help determine the correct size of dehumidifier for your basement.

A lack of good drainage around the foundation of your house is a more complicated problem. It can be caused by all sorts of issues: ineffective drain tile, the lack of a sump pump and/or drain tile, clogged gutters, or the negative pitch of the soil to the foundation are just a few of them.

Using the right coatings on the block walls is key. They should be guaranteed mold-proof.

Mold needs two things to grow: a food source and moisture. If the wrong type of coating is on the block walls and there is poor drainage, mold will grow on the block walls. That wrong paint or coating actually becomes a food source for the mold, which forms from excess moisture behind your walls or under floors.

If the wrong product is applied to wet walls, you might also get peeling paint. Any drainage issues should always be addressed before mold-proof coatings are applied.

“At Comprehensive Mold Management, we also advise limiting the amount of belongings stored in your basement,” says Wagner. Too much stuff will limit airflow, making it much more difficult to remove moisture. And if those objects already have mold on them, the mold levels can rise much higher.

Worse, if those existing mold spores in your basement are disturbed from, say, moving boxes or attempting to clean the mold yourself without proper containment, you risk cross-contaminating your entire home. All it takes is your furnace or air-conditioning unit to blow the mold through vents, or even you walking moldy items up your stairs for disposal.

“It’s always better to err on the side of caution and call a mold expert to evaluate your basement before moving or cleaning anything,” Wagner says.

Of course, basement flooding is the ultimate moisture problem. Knowing in advance what to do is your best defense, so keeps these tips in mind:

  • Electrocution is always a danger! Be sure your electricity is turned off before venturing into the water-laden area.
  • Call a plumber. If the flood is severe, also call a specialist or your local fire department to help with the water removal.
  • Call your insurance company to check on your flood coverage.
  • Wear protective clothing such as masks and gloves.
  • Dry out water-soaked items to prevent any mold growth, which can appear quickly if not addressed.
  • Keep an itemized list of your belongings.
  • Wash and dry those items immediately after use.
  • Remove rugs or pull them completely back from the wet area, drying the wet portions of the fabric with a fan or carpet extractor.
  • Rent a carpet-cleaning vacuum/extractor to pull the water from rugs.
  • Provide as much ventilation as possible.
  • Run a dehumidifier continuously until the space is fully dried out and beyond.
  • Run fans to assist in drying out the space and your belongings.
  • Make sure there is no structural damage to your foundation.
  • Keep an eye on the space for a few weeks to check on continued dampness.

For more information, visit the website at www.compmold.com.

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Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 3.94 percent – Washington Post

Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 3.94 percent

by:  Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly lower this week, as the key 30-year rate marked a new low for the year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans slipped to 3.94 percent from 3.95 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.66 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages held steady from last week at 3.19 percent.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged this week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also held steady at 0.5 point.

 Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.11 percent from 3.07 percent last week. The fee increased to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.
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New homeless shelter as nice as health club – Democrat & Chronicle

New homeless shelter as nice as health club

By: Erica Bryant

On the walls of the kitchen of the old House of Mercy, there hung three or four paintings of Jesus eating with his disciples. And a sign that read, “A good friend will bail you out of jail. A true friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘damn that was fun!’”

CW Earsley is in charge of the kitchen and he hung the sign. Sister Grace Miller, the sister of Mercy who founded this homeless shelter, wasn’t one to object. Since opening the first House of Mercy in 1985, she has been to jail several times for protesting on behalf of the poor.

On Sunday, Sister Grace was trying to dispel rumors concerning the homeless shelter’s imminent move to a sparkling, newly renovated building on Ormond Street.

The spirit of the House, she said over and over, would stay the same. Homeless people may stay as long as they need. The House will never turn anyone away.

Meanwhile, volunteer chefs prepared the last lunch — turkey, pork loin, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy — to be served out of the Hudson Avenue facility. Many of them, like Douglass Johnson, know what it feels like to be homeless and in need of a hot meal. “I give my time to the House because they gave their time to me,” he said, chopping red peppers. “When nobody else would.”

Earsley usually runs the kitchen on Sundays, but he was busy preparing for the move so Smokey Williams was the boss. After Williams’ home in Louisiana got washed away in Hurricane Katrina, he came to Rochester. When FEMA aid ran out, he ended up at the House of Mercy and asked to help out in the kitchen. “I like to eat and I’ll work for my food,” he said. Williams is back on his feet now, but he kept volunteering and now runs the kitchen most of the time.

On Sunday, he passed out tasks to people like Mike “Stretch” Austin, who had also lived at the House for a spell. “They took good care of me,” he said. He’s excited because the new House of Mercy has an automatic dishwasher. He had to hand wash all dishes at the House on Hudson Avenue, in a sink with a pan underneath it to catch the water that dripped from a pipe which had been duct taped, and duct taped again.

Much at the Hudson Avenue facility was held together with duct tape. Though the shelter regularly slept 100 people, there were no beds, only donated couches and floor mats. Residents, some of whom had lived at the House of Mercy for more than a decade, ate their meals from Styrofoam containers balanced on their knees. “We have been getting by rough and tumble for 30 years,” said Earsley.

He started cooking for the House of Mercy just before Thanksgiving in 1988. At that time the House of Mercy was  in a house on Central Avenue. There was a four-burner house stove and about 65 people to feed. Earsley, a former army cook, knew how to prepare food for 1,000 people at a time, but he had to get creative given the equipment. He cut the turkeys down the middle with a meat cleaver and flattened them out so he could fit three in the oven at a time. The meal got done and the hungry got fed. “It was a three-day adventure,” he said.

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Tree problem – Democrat & Chronicle

Tree Problem

by: Edith Lank

Dear Edith: I am contacting you with regard an issue I currently have with a dangerous tree in my neighbor’s yard. I have gone through my insurance company to get advice and sent her a certified notice, which she refused to sign for. We then sent priority mail, which we have proof from USPS was delivered.

We have tried to talk to her but get no response and have even offered to pay to take the tree down and we just get silence. The village of Fairport recognizes it will hit our house, maybe us too if we’re in the right place but refuse to assist.  They won’t even talk to her as it is a civil matter.

I have managed to find out she has a mortgage with Chase but they won’t give me her insurance company’s name so we can’t get them involved.

Currently her house is in disrepair. I think it’s in her advantage for the tree to fall. Unfortunately for us the larger part is heading our way.

I am desperate to get this resolved without the tree falling.  Do you have any advice? Thanks in advance.

— A.S.

I’m afraid it’s thanks for nothing.  You’ve reported the problem to your homeowners insurance company and tried to contact your neighbors’, discussed this with the village, and communicated with the neighbor as much as you could.  The only thing left is to consult your own attorney.

If it’s any consolation, you can take heart from the fact that the tree evidently survived that recent record-breaking windstorm.

DiNapoli: Audit Exposes Significant Management Issues With Tonawanda Housing Authority –

DiNapoli: Audit Exposes Significant Management Issues With Tonawanda Housing Authority

An audit of the Tonawanda Housing Authority (THA) has revealed inappropriate computer usage, inequitable tenant and applicant treatment, and high vacancy rates in public housing, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“The actions of certain Tonawanda housing authority employees are shameful,” said DiNapoli. “Management showed contempt for the neediest applicants and seemingly gave preferential treatment to others. For years, the authority has not operated in a fair and equitable, efficient or transparent manner and has not been fulfilling its duty to provide low-cost housing to this community.”

The authority, located in the city of Tonawanda in Erie County, manages a 257-unit apartment complex that consists of four main apartment buildings. DiNapoli noted both the longtime executive secretary and bookkeeper retired last year after approximately 25 years of service at the THA. The audit focused on the period prior to these retirements.

While examining tenant applications and existing tenant files during their fieldwork, DiNapoli’s auditors found hostile notes describing personal judgments of the respective applicants using vulgar language apparently made by THA staff. Also, during audit fieldwork, authority staff made derogatory statements regarding a tenant’s personal hygiene and asserted their preferences toward applicants who paid or would pay fair-market value rent.

Meanwhile, the THA maintained a consistently high vacancy rate (33 percent vacancy rate for senior housing and 9 percent for non-senior housing as of March 31, 2016). The March 2016 vacancy report provided to auditors indicated that the average vacancy period was two years, with three units remaining vacant for over eight years. As a result of these openings, the authority deprived eligible applicants of affordable housing and annually lost potential revenue that ranged from approximately $72,000 to $117,000.

The authority also fell short in its responsibility to provide adequate and safe low-rent housing for qualified individuals. DiNapoli’s auditors identified both tenants and tenant applicants that were not treated in a consistently fair and equitable manner, resulting in questionable application rejections and potential preferential treatment to others.

When questioned about the vacancies by the THA board of directors, the former executive secretary and bookkeeper often did not respond to requests for additional information, and at times the executive secretary provided inaccurate and unsubstantiated information.

In addition, auditors found the waitlists maintained by THA showed a variety of questionable practices. This included the bookkeeper failing to update six of the nine authority waitlists for a six-month period; several applicant appointments that were not called in waitlist order; and two applications that were omitted from the waitlist.

THA also failed to consistently conduct required background checks, credit checks and income verifications for all applications.

As a result of the audit, DiNapoli recommends the THA take immediate steps to ensure the board receives appropriate information, in a complete and accurate manner, so it can effectively monitor authority operations.

Additionally, the Comptroller recommended that officials adopt and implement written policies and procedures that address key components of the THA’s housing occupancy operations, including:

  • Uniform treatment of prospective tenant applications, background and credit checks, waitlist management, rent rate calculations, annual tenant application updates and income verifications;
  • Reapplication and hearing procedures for tenants with rejected or cancelled applications;
  • Maximizing apartment readiness and apartment showing protocols; and
  • Board monitoring and oversight of the housing occupancy operations and staff.

In a corresponding review of the THA’s information technology (IT) assets, auditors found major deficiencies in the authority’s IT security and instances of unacceptable computer usage.

For example, authority employees used computers to access multiple websites of a personal, nonbusiness or otherwise high-risk nature, including pornographic, social networking, auction and shopping.

Furthermore, auditors found indications of previous malware infections, and continued suspicious activity on the authority’s computers. These deficiencies could have compromised the personal, private and sensitive information of tenants maintained by the authority.

DiNapoli made a number of recommendations to the authority regarding its IT operations, including:

  • Ensure authority computers are not infected with malware and verify that any unauthorized software programs are removed;
  • Adopt a breach notification policy and implement a process for analyzing infected computers and determining the extent of incidents that occur;
  • Confirm all authority computers are running up-to-date antivirus software and are frequently scanned for viruses and other malware;
  • Adopt and enforce a computer and internet use policy that defines appropriate and prohibited activities when using authority computers and other IT assets; and
  • Provide IT security awareness training to all authority employees at least annually.

The THA board chairman and the current THA executive secretary agreed with the audit findings. A copy of the full audit report can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/publicauth/2017/tonawanda-housing.htm

For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 130,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created to promote transparency in government and provide taxpayers with better access to financial data.

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