1994 Town of Knox Comprehensive Plan: Town Government

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Town Government

The New England forefathers brought their traditional form of government to the Town of Knox. The town was the unit responsible for collecting taxes, holding elections, establishing and supervising schools, and maintaining highways. Early records of the Town of Knox, starting with its formation in 1850, were destroyed by fire; the first recorded bylaws appear in Tenney and Howell's History of Albany County . The first meeting was held at the home of Henry Barkley, located at the corner of Route 156 and Knox Cave Road(36). At that time Knox was divided into three assessment districts. Overseers of the poor were appointed and directed to report to the Town meetings thereafter the number of the poor to be maintained, the cost of their maintenance, and to estimate the cost for the ensuing year. Men could pay their highway tax by working on the roads; this work is now done by men employed by Town and County.

Article 6 of the bylaws stated that "no horses shall go at large; no cattle, sheep or swine shall go at large and the penalty on them shall be, when found going at large and secured in any pen or yard or any premises, the owner or owners therof shall pay to the person or persons taking them up the following sum - For every stallion two years old, fo ur dollars; for every cow, ox, steer, bull or calf, fifty cents; for every sheep, two cents per head; for every swine, six cents per head and for every boar two months old or older, two dollars." Half the money collected went to the person who "captured" t he loose animals and the other half went to the poor. Stock could not be impounded for more than 48 hours, and owners of impounded animals had to be notified within 24 hours of the trespass.

Fence viewers were appointed by the Town to supervise the building and repair of the fences which enclosed the Town's "common property" fields. It was the duty of the fence viewer to see that every man worked for an equal length of time each year on these "pales", as the fences were called, or paid his share for the wo rk of others. Fence viewers were also required to examine fences on private lands, noting breaks and ordering repairs where necessary. If cattle broke through a defective fence, causing damage, the fence owner had to stand the loss, but if cattle broke thr ough a sound fence, the cattle owner would be required to pay. The bylaws stipulated that partition fences for lands, gardens, orchards, and meadows should be five feet high. Fence viewers were allotted seventy - five cents for each day of service.

Town offices, which were elective, consisted of Supervisor, Town Clerk, Justice of Peace, Collector, Assessor, Commissioners of Highways, Election Inspectors and Overseers of the Poor. Tenney and Howell's History of Albany County contains the civil list for 1851 - 1854.

The names of Knox's town officials are contained in the proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of Albany County for each year since its inception. A town hall was built in 1976 on a site directly behind the Knox Historical Society, on the former Saddlemire farm.

Planning efforts began in 1967 when the Town of Knox Natural Resource Inventory Committee, appointed by the Town Supervisor, published two reports: "Land Use Guide and Map for the Town of Knox", and "Water Resources Guide for the Town of Knox". In 1972, the Town Board appointed a Zoning Commission charged with the responsibility of developing a zoning ordinance. The first zoning ordinance was adopted by the Town Board on December 10, 1974. With the adoption of the zoning ordinance, the Town also created the Knox Zoning and Planning Boards. The Planning Board adopted subdivision regulations on July 2, 1979.