Category “Planning Board”

Planning Board Meeting Thursday May 21st

Source: Z-2020-05_500 Maple Rd_052120_Drawings

Just a reminder that the Planning Board will hold five PUBLIC HEARINGS this Thursday May 21st at 6:30 pm via Zoom video conferencing.

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2635&Inline=True

The last two public hearings concern the preparation of 14.97 acres of the Audubon recreational area for sale to a private owner. The fourth public hearing is to discuss if the Comprehensive Plan should be amended to allow this rezoning (RC to CF).  Expect a quick positive vote with little discussion so they can move on to the main event of the evening, the rezoning request.

The fifth and final public hearing is to discuss the rezoning of a portion of 500 Maple Rd (Audubon) by Audubon Park MOB LLC, petitioner. Also expect a rather quick positive vote with little discussion. The deal to get a UBMD facility built on this parcel has been in the works for months. Over a year ago the town’s started the process to request that the State grant the alienation 93 acres of Audubon property in anticipation of selling some or all of it.

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He feels the NEED… the NEED for SPEED…

Source: Z-2020-05_500 Maple Rd_052120_Drawings

The agenda of the May 21st Planning Board meeting contains two public hearings related to the 500 Maple Rd rezoning that must be held quickly in order for the Supervisor to get his Audubon parkland alienation/UBMD/Westwood/Ciminelli/500 Maple Rd rezoning deal done on time.  But the clock is ticking, TICK, TICK, TICK!

How much time remains to get this deal done you might ask. The short answer is apparently 9 months after Oct 3, 2019. The Governor signed Senate Bill S6285A into law for the Audubon parkland alienation on Oct 3, 2019.


For those who want the messy details, let’s start with Town Board Resolution 2019-617 of May 20, 2019 which states at one point that …

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a signed MOU for the Town’s question of  Westwood must be in place within 9 months or the Town Board directs the Town Attorney to re-designate the Audubon property as inalienable parkland,  and

Resolution 2019-617:  https://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?ID=20469

But it wasn’t until Aug 19, 2019 when Resolution 2019-990 was adopted that the unsigned MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) first appeared in public. This MOU contained a 9 month “Exclusivity” clause between the Town of Amherst and Bones&Guts, LLC, a legal entity insulating other involved parties.

Resolution 2019-990:  http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?ID=20882&highlightTerms=2019-990

Will the Town of Amherst hold true to it’s promise of a 9 month window to get this deal done?  The answer is  … MAYBE, it all depends how much we trust our Town Board to act with honesty and integrity.

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Planning Board Meeting May 21th

The Amherst Planning Board will meet via Zoom video conferencing on Thursday May 21th at 6:30 pm. The Planning Board “public work session” is 30 minutes earlier at 6 pm.

According to the agenda the public will be allowed to participate this time.  At the last Planning Board meeting on April 23rd the public was not allowed to speak at any of the public hearings.

Agenda : http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2635&Inline=True

There are 5 PUBLIC HEARINGS on the agenda (2) for SITE PLANS (1) for SUBDIVISIONS and (2) for REZONING/BICENTENNIAL PLAN CHANGES. These last two (4 and 5) are by far the most widely concerning to all Amherst residents.

Property located at 500 Maple Road (portion)
Audubon Park MOB LLC, Petitioner

This is the comp plan/rezoning portion of the “UBMD deal” the Supervisor has been putting together. It started with the alienation of 14.97 acres of the Audubon recreational area by New York State. Where it ends is as yet a mystery. More details soon!

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TRUST- the “glue” that BINDS the people AND government

Where PUBLIC TRUST starts!

One sad aspect of the closed-to-the-public government in the Town of Amherst during this time of a pandemic is going to be the possible lingering impression somehow town government likes it that way. This is not good for anyone, either the public or town government because it can erode the public trust of town government.

Historically public participation in town government has been lackluster at best, with only a few residents bothering to come to Town Board meetings, and even fewer to Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals meetings. Of course there have been times when public attendance at a specific Town Board or other meeting has been “through the roof”, but these are rare. The recent upset with the proposed changes to the Audubon Golf Course comes to mind here.

It is understandable that knowing that public participation at Town Board meeting is normally quite small that the Supervisor would conclude that there was no need to allow the public to “attend” a video only Town Board meeting. But the recent large and complex Planning Board and ZBA agendas tell another story to those willing to listen.  The Planning Board chairman can be heard on the April 23rd meeting video stating loudly and often that no public comments would be allowed based on the Supervisor’s Executive Orders to that effect.

One blatant example that comes to mind immediately is the seemingly fast and furious effort of the Planning Board and ZBA to move a specific project located on Park Club Lane as quickly as possible past all the hurdles it faced with little/no public participation or potential public opposition.  What makes this process even more suspicious is that the attorney for the petitioner and his support people were allowed to present their arguments for the project inactively over video while all public attendees were continuously muted and could only listen! At one point there were 52 people on this video meeting, but ONLY the Planning Board members, appropriate town staff, or agents for the petitioner could speak (i.e., were NOT muted)

The Town Board was also busy this year providing “Relief of Zoning Condition” for a project on Park Club Lane. Check out Resolution 2020-215  passed at the March 6th Town Board meeting just before the Supervisor’s first Executive Order of March 15th.

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MISSING: Public participation at Town Public Meetings this week!

This is a full week for Amherst Town government activity.

1. The Town Board “meets” on Monday, April 20 at 4 pm.
2. The Zoning Board of Appeals “meets” on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 pm.
3. The Planning Board “meets” on Thursday,  April 23 at 6:30 pm.  (“Pre-meeting” at 6 pm)

Link to Agendas :   http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/

The agenda content for each of these “meeting” is full, in fact very full as if for the Town of Amherst, the corona virus pandemic is not happening.   It’s business as usual, and get as much done as possible regardless of the collateral damage to meetings caused by the pandemic.

But there is one thing that is different, actually overwhelming different.  It appears ways of fully including the public in the process of a “public meeting” do not yet exist.  While it is clear that the corona virus pandemic makes public gathering almost impossible at this time, it is also clear that the the town hasn’t yet found OR proven it has an minimally adequate replacement.

The Town of Amherst must first PROVE, not ASSUME, that the Zoom Meetings videoconferencing process it is attempting to use for the first time for ZBA and Planning Board meetings is “good enough” to support robust and meaningful public participation.  Starting with meetings that contain heavily loaded agendas,  where some of these items appear both complex and controversial is asking for trouble.

So start simple, reduce the number of agenda items and put off the controversial ones for a month or two. Work out the problems with Zoom Meetings videoconferencing, and if it is not good enough, find a better way and test that method. But don’t fail to adequately provide for public participation by insisting to schedule large agendas where public participation is not properly supported.


ALSO ...

  • Town Board: The Town Board “meeting” this Monday does not even support any meaningful or effective form of public participation. No live streaming. just a video posted later. The justification appears to be that since this “meeting” has no public hearing, no live streaming and no public expression is OK.
  • Planning Board: Also it appears the Planning Board agenda is a “double stuff” one, at least two months of REGULAR agenda items crammed into one. Actually it might even be more than that, so this agenda is even more suspicious than usual as to why it is NOW so full.

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New Way for Important Government Meetings in Amherst

The Town Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Planning Board meetings for the month of April will held remotely using videoconferencing software. While this is the right way to protect the board members, town employees and public from potential viral infection, it also makes it more difficult to have a public meeting that is truly public.

The ZBA announced it would use Zoom videoconferencing for its April 21, 2020 meeting with the meeting id and password on the Town of Amherst (TOA) website. The Planning Board later followed with its own Zoom videoconferencing meeting id and password for its April 23, 2020 meeting.

TOA website link: http://www.amherst.ny.us/content/track-us.php

The Town Board held its March 25th and April 6th meetings using remote videoconferencing software, but decided not to publish the meeting id’s or passwords. Will they do this for the next Town Board meeting?

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Big Buildings Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood – Benderson Edition

Fittingly the former Friendly’s Restaurant on Sweet Home and Maple is

about to become very un-friendly with a proposed 6-story hotel working

its way thru town approvals. Site plan approval for this “friendly hotel”

is on the Planning Board agenda for its next meeting on Feb 20 at 6:30 at

Town Hall.

 

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The Serfs Must Challenge the Monarchy

Jan. 5, 2020

I think it is important the communities are listened to and that their voice is heard, particularly with local government, because you are talking very much about communities.

Amherst Town Hall

A gift was given to Rudy Giuliani, oops I meant Dal Giuliani of Amherst, NY. He has been on our very important Planning Board as a holdover for 2 years.

Giuliani’s term on the Planning Board expired in 2017 but for some unknown reason, the Town Board refused the public outcry to remove him or give the public a valid reason.

A government that doesn’t follow the rules in our Town Code is a monarchy, not a Republic. This is a major and intentional move to override our Town Code for the good of our Town Board not for the people of Amherst.

There are several instances where the same person whose term has expired is held over for the good of the town not the people of Amherst. This must stop now. Amherst is either a Republic or a cesspool of a monarchy.

At tomorrow’s Town Board meeting, January 6, 2020, the board will once again put Dal Giuliani officially on the Planning Board as well as name him the Chairman of the new board called the Design Advisory Board.

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