Members of the Village of Dutchtown community spoke to the Cape County Commission on Sept 14 to ask them to disincorporate the village and have the county take over its responsibilities and assets.
Two Dutchtown residents, Tracey McElreath and Mary Hartis, and three non-resident property owner, Voyann Smith, Don Heuring and Charles Scheffer, spoke to the meeting. All were for disincorporation.
“What’s the point?” Hartis asked. “Why should we stay incorporated if nobody wants to be in charge of it? And the ones who want to be in charge of it, we don’t really want to be in charge of it.”
Five-and-a-half acres of property in Dutchtown was bought out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following recent floods, leaving the village responsible for the land. All the homes on those properties were demolished and residents say the village has not been able to maintain the land since then.
“I just feel that it’s more responsibility that we, the residents, are able to do because a lot of us are older and really not capable or have the time to take and maintain the properties there,” McElreath said. “We don’t have the resources for abandoned properties.”
Because of the floods, the population of the small town has grown even smaller, leaving no one to run the town. All village board members have resigned or moved away, leaving the board vacant for the past two years.
The village has not collected property tax, due to not having a board to set the rate, though they do have a bank account of past funds that the county would receive access to if the village disincorporated.
A town hall was held in July, in which six residents and an additional six land owners signed petitions in favor of the disincorporation. Smith said it has been a struggle to even get residents to participate in the process, despite “overwhelming” support to disincorporated at the town hall.
“All the land owners were notified and the residents were notified of this meeting taking place to try to get a response from them,” Smith said.
Presiding Commissioner Clinton D. Tracy thanked them for sharing their thoughts with the commission, but said they were not ready to decide if the county would take over the Village of Dutchtown at this time.
“We’ve now heard your input, and now we’ll move forward with that,” Tracy said. “We’re putting together a timeline of events that will have to take place in the near future and moving forward.”