Amy Lauterbach Pokorny, Knox town board candidate
KNOX — In addition to serving on the town board, Amy Lauterbach Pokorny attends many meetings each month for community groups. The incumbent Democrat is running for her first full term on the town board.
Pokorny, 61, is president of the Kiwanis Club of the Helderbergs, having been its treasurer for the past decade, and she is secretary for the Helderberg Hilltowns Association. In 2012, was first appointed to a town board seat, having served on the zoning board of appeals. Town board member Travis Stevens, a Republican, had resigned his seat after winning a term as an Albany County legislator.
Pokorny has Democratic and Independence Party endorsement this election. In 2012, when she ran to fill the last year of Stevens’s term, Pokorny also ran on the No-Fracking Party line. She spent most of her career working for the New York State Department of Social Services and is now retired.
Pokorny and her husband, Knox Assessor Russell Pokorny, are involved in the Helderberg Community Energy Group and own the Octagon Barn, a venue for music, dances, and community events in Knox.
The Pokornys owned the Knox Country Store in the hamlet, which has since closed, that was originally at the center of the proposed business district for the hamlet. The Pokornys owned the store, from 1997 to 2002, when they had jam sessions and Mr. Pokorny gave piano lessons.
“Sometimes, people would dance, literally in the aisles, in the grocery aisles,” said Pokorny. The success of the rural store, Pokorny said, was in the variety of its products, like deli meats, Lottery tickets, and playing cards. Since then, Pokorny said, the viability of a business in the hamlet isn’t much different and it needs only creativity and commitment.
Pokorny said she would like the uses for the new business district to include residential uses currently in effect. The planning board is currently drafting the language to define the business district.
“If they had not addressed those inconsistencies, then all those houses in the hamlet would become non-conforming, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense,” Pokorny said of the planning board modifying the schedule of uses for multiple uses in the district.
Given that the three town board members who passed the resolution on posting vacant positions are no longer on the board, Pokorny said, future boards aren’t bound by a previous board’s policy.
“I think it would impose some restrictions on our ability to expedite replacements to where they are needed,” Pokorny said of following the 2011 resolution. “We are elected to represent the public in filling these positions, and I think we’ve done a good job.” Pokorny recused herself in the most recent re-appointment of her husband as the town’s assessor, which raised questions from the gallery.
Pokorny is leading the process of updating the town’s comprehensive plan, following a suggested path set out by professional planner Nan Stolzenberg. So far, a general survey of three questions has had about 45 responses, Pokorny said, and, additionally, about half of 30 surveys specific to agricultural properties were sent back. The surveys are still being collected, but results have been classified by topic to form a more specific questionnaire that will be mailed to each house in Knox.
“It was recommended by Nan Stolzenberg, and I think it’s carefully thought out to solicit the topics from the public first, rather than suggesting them,” Pokorny said of the process of gathering public input.
Pokorny doesn’t see a need for any more action on the state’s gun-control legislation.
“I haven’t heard anyone ask for further action, and I’m not sure what else we would be able to provide beyond what we did with the resolution we passed,” said Pokorny.
Any needed changes to the town’s zoning ordinance, Pokorny said, would likely play out in the comprehensive plan update.
“As far as enforcing the zoning ordinance, I think that’s kind of a separate topic,” said Pokorny, adding that modifications to the comprehensive plan coming from public input could affect the shape of how the town treats different business uses.
Pokorny said she is happy with the town’s recycling at the transfer station. She is involved with the Capital Region Recycling Partnership, where she learned of St. Pauly Textile Inc., which now has a shed at the transfer station for residents to bring unwanted clothing and fabrics that then go to charities and produce revenue for the town.