Category “Zoom Video Meeting”

Democracy in the Town of Amherst

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

The 2nd of 4 Town Board meetings this June is on Monday, June15th at 4pm.

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3772

This is a first of two Special meetings this month intended for ONLY public hearings. The Town Board could have held these public hearings during  either of the two regular Town Board meetings his month, but deliberately chose not to do so.

Including public hearings at a regular Town Board meeting would have allowed the public to comment on the other content of the regular meetings, but that is what our Town Board is apparently trying to prevent.

If you look ahead to the last two Town Board meetings on June 22nd, you can see how this restriction on public participation is very clearly reflected in the way these meetings are scheduled on the Town Meeting Portal website.

These meetings occur one after the other, a regular meeting first with NO public participation followed by a special meeting with public participation limited to a single resolution.

Town Meeting Portal website: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/

Is this the way our Town Board thinks democracy in Amherst should function?

 

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Playing Hide ‘n Seek with the Town Board meeting agenda

Resolution 2020-507 Temporary Access Agreement – Nussbaumer & Clarke (CRS#
2076)

The Monday, June 8th Town Board meeting contains several important and substantive resolutions which before COVID-19 would certainly attract public comment during public expression. But now our Town Board will not allow the public to view or participate at the live streamed Zoom video of the meeting for reasons that are vague and questionable.

In the larger agenda packet, Resolution 2020-507 – Temporary Access Agreement – Nussbaumer & Clarke (CRS#2076) states only that it is for “access to the lands outlined in the boundary survey of the land site, attached as Exhibit “A”“. The shorter meeting  agenda doesn’t have even that level of detail.

When reading a Town Board agenda these days it has become increasingly necessary to dig deeper into seemingly ordinary resolutions to find out what they really mean.  After you do sometimes they are not so ordinary. The image below is the “lands outlined” of this resolution.

Exhibit “A”

Link: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3774&MediaPosition=&ID=21998&CssClass=

Has the Town Board forgotten what the words “public trust” mean?

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Town Board Meeting Tuesday, May 26th

Amherst Municipal Building
5583 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221

There is another Town Board meeting on Tuesday, May 26th at 4 pm. Presumably it will again be held using Zoom video conferencing, and recorded for posting on the town website sometime later this week.

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2663&Inline=True

Apparently this is the new normal for Town Board meetings. No more attendance or participation at meetings, everything we need to know is in the final video.

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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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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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