We documented the utter failure of this Committee chaired by self proclaimed Plan opponent Al Spain in prior issues and repeated one of those entries below and linked to a separate "Mystery Minutes" issue here. There is also a letter to the editor which touches on issues related to the plan here.
The bottom line in all of this is that the new CPC group appointed by the current Town Board Majority completely ignored their responsibilities under the State's Open Meetings Law to take accurate minutes, assure a record of votes and the discussions leading up to the votes which changed the plan completed in December of 2006. The information below details those failures which really leave the town board with a clear choice: Adopt a plan which was created without regard for compliance with the Open Meetings Law or adopt one which was not created in violation of the Open Meetings Law or any other statute.
The latter course may embarrass Al Spain and his his $40,000 no bid contract consultant, but at least the plan would not fall to a legal challenge if one were to ensue. From the beginning this majority was advised to save all that no bid money and simply adopt, then amend the plan completed in 2006. But no, that would give people they despised too much credit and as we later learned, not placate certain development issues and connected contributors who wanted zoning changes on RT 4, presumably to sell their land and make a killing at the expense of the quailty of life of all town residents.
So come tonight if you have a chance and speak. It's your turn now.
A Comprehensive Mess
What a mess the Comprehensive Plan Committee has turned out to be. Listen to the dissertation in front of the meeting about the Spain led Committee's utter failure to comply with the Open Meetings Law and Section 272A of the town Law under which a Comprehensive Plan Committee must comply. There's sure to a be lawsuit filed under Article 78 unless Spain changes course on his efforts to amend the Land Use Map without proper adherence to the Town Law under which this committee and Town Board operates to create a Comprehensive Plan. Why was the Land Use Map changed and at whose request? We don't know and the minutes, such as they are, utterly fail to tell us. What we do know is that this new plan makes substantial changes to the Land Use Map prepared by the first CPC and none of these changes is recorded in any of the so called minutes demonstrating discussion, motions, resolutions with a record of the vote. This is the very minimum required by the Open Meetings Law of a public body such as a CPC.
Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show a near complete failure to keep minutes, record attendance of members for the purposes of quorums and the passage of required resolutions possible only by a quorum of members to send any completed draft to the town board so that it can schedule two required Public Hearings. Further, the Committee under Spain and GOP town board hopeful Kelly Hoffman, failed to hold it's own required Public Hearing before failing to pass a resolution with a quorum to ask the Town Board to hold its hearings.
Spain also stunned many by stating he had run for town board as an opponent of the Comprehensive Plan. That was news to those who followed the election campaigns last year. Regardless of whether you ran against the Comprehensive Plan, that does not give you a mandate to ignore the laws which govern its creation and that's exactly what you are doing.
So pardon us if you think that demanding accountability and compliance with the law is whining. No, whining is complaining without the facts to back up one's position. It's having none of the documents, statutes and facts to back up your complaints, or in some cases, responding to complaints with insults when the facts are not on your side. Do the right thing Mr. Spain because word is, the Democratic Party, now run by Democrats, will force compliance with the law.
Here is S272A of the Town Law. Read it and tell us what this CPC did complied with the statute.
§ 272-a. Town comprehensive plan. 1. Legislative findings and intent.
The legislature hereby finds and determines that:
(a) Significant decisions and actions affecting the immediate and long-range protection, enhancement, growth and development of the state and its communities are made by local governments.
(b) Among the most important powers and duties granted by the legislature to a town government is the authority and responsibility to undertake town comprehensive planning and to regulate land use for the purpose of protecting the public health, safety and general welfare of its citizens.
(c) The development and enactment by the town government of a town comprehensive plan which can be readily identified, and is available for use by the public, is in the best interest of the people of each town.
(d) The great diversity of resources and conditions that exist within and among the towns of the state compels the consideration of such diversity in the development of each town comprehensive plan.
(e) The participation of citizens in an open, responsible and flexible planning process is essential to the designing of the optimum town comprehensive plan.
(f) The town comprehensive plan is a means to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the town and to give due consideration to the needs of the people of the region of which the town is a part.
(g) The comprehensive plan fosters cooperation among governmental agencies planning and implementing capital projects and municipalities that may be directly affected thereby.
(h) It is the intent of the legislature to encourage, but not to require, the preparation and adoption of a comprehensive plan pursuant to this section. Nothing herein shall be deemed to affect the status or validity of existing master plans, comprehensive plans, or land use plans.
2. Definitions. As used in this section, the term:
(a) "town comprehensive plan" means the materials, written and/or graphic, including but not limited to maps, charts, studies, resolutions, reports and other descriptive material that identify the goals, objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards, devices
and instruments for the immediate and long-range protection, enhancement, growth and development of the town located outside the limits of any incorporated village or city.
(b) "land use regulation" means an ordinance or local law enacted by the town for the regulation of any aspect of land use and community resource protection and includes any zoning, subdivision, special use permit or site plan regulation or any other regulation which prescribes the appropriate use of property or the scale, location and intensity of development.
(c) "special board" means a board consisting of one or more members of the planning board and such other members as are appointed by the town board to prepare a proposed comprehensive plan and/or an amendment thereto.
3. Content of a town comprehensive plan. The town comprehensive plan may include the following topics at the level of detail adapted to the special requirements of the town:
(a) General statements of goals, objectives, principles, policies, and standards upon which proposals for the immediate and long-range enhancement, growth and development of the town are based.
(b) Consideration of regional needs and the official plans of other government units and agencies within the region.
(c) The existing and proposed location and intensity of land uses.
(d) Consideration of agricultural uses, historic and cultural resources, coastal and natural resources and sensitive environmental areas.
(e) Consideration of population, demographic and socio-economic trends and future projections.
(f) The location and types of transportation facilities.
(g) Existing and proposed general location of public and private utilities and infrastructure.
(h) Existing housing resources and future housing needs, including affordable housing.
(i) The present and future general location of educational and cultural facilities, historic sites, health facilities and facilities for emergency services.
(j) Existing and proposed recreation facilities and parkland.
(k) The present and potential future general location of commercial and industrial facilities.
(l) Specific policies and strategies for improving the local economy in coordination with other plan topics.
(m) Proposed measures, programs, devices, and instruments to implement the goals and objectives of the various topics within the comprehensive plan.
(n) All or part of the plan of another public agency.
(o) Any and all other items which are consistent with the orderly growth and development of the town.
4. Preparation. The town board, or by resolution of such town board, the planning board or a special board, may prepare a proposed town comprehensive plan and amendments thereto. In the event the planning board or special board is directed to prepare a proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereto, such board shall, by resolution, recommend such proposed plan or amendment to the town board.
5. Referrals. (a) Any proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereto that is prepared by the town board or a special board may be referred to the town planning board for review and recommendation before action by the town board.
(b) The town board shall, prior to adoption, refer the proposed comprehensive plan or any amendment thereto to the county planning board or agency or regional planning council for review and recommendation as required by section two hundred thirty-nine-m of the general municipal law. In the event the proposed plan or amendment thereto is prepared by
the town planning board or a special board, such board may request comment on such proposed plan or amendment from the county planning board or agency or regional planning council.
6. Public hearings; notice. (a) In the event the town board prepares a proposed town comprehensive plan or amendment thereto, the town board shall hold one or more public hearings and such other meetings as it deems necessary to assure full opportunity for citizen participation in the preparation of such proposed plan or amendment, and in addition, the town board shall hold one or more public hearings prior to adoption of such proposed plan or amendment.
272A5(b) In the event the town board has directed the planning board or a special board to prepare a proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereto, the board preparing the plan shall hold one or more public hearings and such other meetings as it deems necessary to assure full opportunity for citizen participation in the preparation of such proposed plan or amendment. The town board shall, within ninety days of receiving the planning board or special board's recommendations on such proposed plan or amendment, and prior to adoption of such proposed plan or amendment, hold a public hearing on such proposed plan or amendment.
(c) Notice of a public hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town at least ten calendar days in advance of the hearing. The proposed comprehensive plan or amendment thereto shall be made available for public review during said period at the office of the town clerk and may be made available at any other place, including a public library.
7. Adoption. The town board may adopt by resolution a town comprehensive plan or any amendment thereto.
8. Environmental review. A town comprehensive plan, and any amendment thereto, is subject to the provisions of the state environmental quality review act under article eight of the environmental conservation law and its implementing regulations. A town comprehensive plan may be designed to also serve as, or be accompanied by, a generic environmental impact
statement pursuant to the state environmental quality review act statute and regulations. No further compliance with such law is required for subsequent site specific actions that are in conformance with the conditions and thresholds established for such actions in the generic
environmental impact statement and its findings.
9. Agricultural review and coordination. A town comprehensive plan and any amendments thereto, for a town containing all or part of an agricultural district or lands receiving agricultural assessments within its jurisdiction, shall continue to be subject to the provisions of article twenty-five-AA of the agriculture and markets law relating to the enactment and administration of local laws, ordinances, rules or regulations. A newly adopted or amended town comprehensive plan shall take into consideration applicable county agricultural and farmland protection plans as created under article twenty-five-AAA of the agriculture and markets law.
10. Periodic review. The town board shall provide, as a component of such proposed comprehensive plan, the maximum intervals at which the adopted plan shall be reviewed.
11. Effect of adoption of the town comprehensive plan. (a) All town land use regulations must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to this section.
(b) All plans for capital projects of another governmental agency on land included in the town comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to this section shall take such plan into consideration.
12. Filing of town comprehensive plan. The adopted town comprehensive plan and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the office of the town clerk and a copy thereof shall be filed in the office of the county planning agency.