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Town of Fulton Privilege of The Floor Suspended

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

By Leila Crockett

FULTON- In the past few months, several high-profile cases have had a significant impact on the community of Fulton and surrounding areas. One of these cases involved the release of alleged murderer Michael Todtschinder from jail, after District Attorney Susan Mallery allegedly failed to present his case to the grand jury. Another case involved The West Fulton Shooter, Brian Goodrich, who was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and remanded to inpatient psychiatric care until it can be determined whether it is safe for him to rejoin the community. These events have left many citizens concerned about the state of their local justice system and the safety of their community while causing a tremendous amount of strain on both the hamlet of Breakabeen and the usually serene Hamlet of West Fulton.

Some of those concerns had spilled over into Monthly Town of Fulton meetings as citizens made complaints regarding a property owned by the Town Supervisor and which was searched as part of the ongoing murder investigation. Town of Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe felt it necessary to suspend Privilege of the Floor after an explosive December town meeting, in order to ensure that business could be conducted as usual. While he didn’t address it being rescinded directly, in the 2024 Town of Fulton Newsletter, Skowfoe made no apologies and encourages residents to reach out to him directly. 

“I’m always open to your comments and concerns. If you have any issues, either on the County or Town level, please don’t hesitate to call me,” he wrote.

Skowfoe made himself available to comment as well as to discuss ongoing projects and recent changes that have been put into effect. Skowfoe made it clear that the Privilege of the Floor is granted at the discretion of supervisors and that he is within his right to suspend this privilege if he feels that allowing it might be counterproductive. He was quick to add that in the meantime, he is willing to hear the concerns of any citizen and that folks should feel free to reach out at any time. Skowfoe went on to say that he will consider reinstating POF in the future. 

On this month’s meeting agenda were two proposed local laws: Local Law for Short Term Rental Regulations, concerning the implementation of safety and zoning regulations largely pertaining to Air BnBs, though not exclusively, and Proposed Local Law for Commercial Non-Permanent and Temporary Structures. While these have been on the radar for some months, it will likely be some time before these are finalized and implemented. There are currently no regulations in place that pertain specifically to these areas.

Skowfoe also has a 1.5 million dollar grant in the works via the Bridge New York Program, which is slated for the repair of a collapsing culvert along Rt 4 in West Fulton. Skowfoe said that Fulton Highway Superintendent Billy Jaycox has been instrumental in helping to secure this grant with which they expect to be able to fund the project completely. 

Though unrelated, a recent report was made to Skowfoe regarding another problematic culvert from concerned citizen Mark Swanberry.  Swanberry, who lives off Rt. 4 in West Fulton expressed concern about a culvert that runs behind his house near Rossman Hill Road. He explained that the culvert has been unable to accommodate the increase in flow which was affected significantly immediately after hurricane Irene and each year thereafter. A friend of Swanbery and Civil Engineer evaluated the culvert which he claimed was grossly undersized at 3.5 feet. Swanberry reported that the last time the culvert flooded, July 13, 2023, Rt. 4 had to be closed.  

He sees this as particularly problematic as Rt. 4 is a designated emergency flood route and that the West Fulton Fire Department would have severely limited means of egress were the road to wash out. 

Swanberry has also seen significant increases in flooding of his property and basement over the years.

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