Were we truly conducting business as usual?

To the Editor:

Dinner and a show. That’s what people who were viewing the Town of Guilderland Planning Board teleconference public hearing were treated to on May 13. The planning board set aside five hours for this event so, if you had an investment, you could dine from home in comfort while taking in the proceedings. You could even go to the bathroom and get after dinner snacks.

Not so for the planning board itself as the hearing did go on for 4 hours and 45 minutes and as the evening drew on, members were observed to be drowsy and yawning. At one point, Chairman Stephen Feeney left his seat and vacated camera range, unknown if he was still actually in the room, and town planner Ken Kovalchik stood up from his seat to do some stretching.

All of which is completely understandable if you commit people to a sequestered venue for what would seem an unreasonable length of time, without a break. Which then would beg the questions: How was this appropriate and why?

The purpose of this hearing was to review the environmental impact that the Pyramid Rapp Road Development project would have if permitted to go forward, per the submitted Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

As the hearing progressed, ironically, it appeared that testimony by credentialed experts as well as the public, bringing to attention inadequacies and erroneous conclusions assumed by the analyses of the DEIS submitted, barely registered, save for occasional admonitions on how long the commentary was lasting.

The preoccupation with timing of commentary and the uncustomary marathon parameters that defined this hearing suggest a predetermined intent to have no further impediments to moving this project forward.

Were we truly conducting business as usual, the talking point we have heard as a need in rationalizing a teleconference for a development proposal of this magnitude. Precedent is clear that a continuation was called for, probably at hour three. In abandoning customary guidelines, we had board members pushed past fair limits for attentiveness and true consideration of relevant testimony compromised.

Once again, we bear witness to the coincidence that, where Pyramid is concerned, different conditions apply. As the pandemic has disrupted Pyramid’s desired timeline for breaking ground, condensing the public hearing on a 140-page DEIS with countless pages of appendices to one night, I’m sure was a good step towards getting Pyramid back on track.

As television goes, for a night of binge watching, it was interesting. For good governance, disturbing.   

Iris Broyde


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