Citizens need to pay attention to town board’s self-serving agenda

To the Editor:

The Republican-backed Berne Town Board thinks that the existing planning board and zoning board of appeals were not legally created. Why, you ask, has this come up after 46 years? Beats me.

Councilman [Mathew] Harris maintains that he searched town records and did not find any record of a local enactment. I don’t think that he contacted the New York State Department of State, the repository for local laws, for any assistance.

Now, the pandemic prevents a thorough review by that agency of historic paper records. Harris is disabused in thinking that absence of proof settles the question. He just is pushing a new planning board law for some misguided reason.

I believe that the town’s zoning ordinance was adopted in 1974. That ordinance sets out the powers and duties of both the planning board and zoning board of appeals. It created both as five-member committees, and the terms for each member.

For 46 years, not one person has questioned the validity of the ordinance. In fact, this issue was not raised in deliberations of the New York State Supreme Court in the recent debacle of the illegal removal of Ms. [Emily] Vincent from the planning board! It never came up in my 28 years of service on the planning board.

Last Wednesday, the Berne Town Board acted on this folly, in spite of testimony to the contrary. It is another example of maladministration by this board. Citizens need to pay attention to their self-serving agenda.

The only bright spot was the appointment of Mr. Michael Vincent as planning board chair, through the end of this year, and the statement that the planning board and the zoning board of appeals are to resume meetings.

Gerard Chartier 

Past member and chairman

Berne Planning Board

Editor’s Note: The Berne Zoning Board of Appeals is established by Article IX of Berne’s zoning ordinance. The planning board is referenced in the ordinance, but no section appears to define the planning board.


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