Who would want to open a business in this climate? Craig Shufelt understands these issues

To the Editor:

In a community backdrop of residential growth, the town of New Scotland faces a critical need to offset some of the impending infrastructure and educational costs with some well-planned commercial growth.

Speaking as the chairman of the Town of New Scotland Republican Committee, let me make clear to those wishing to score political points or scare the public: We are not proposing any big-box stores or Route 9-style overdevelopment. We fully understand the rural/suburban nature of this community and will be as protective as anyone.

Since the closing of Smith’s Tavern in Voorheesville, many have expressed concern to us over the lack of commercial amenities in New Scotland. With the new residential developments underway in town, we can all anticipate significantly higher taxes unless we can get some commercial offsets. Still higher taxes will be a hardship for seniors and younger people wishing to stay home in New Scotland.

Recent actions by the various town boards and officials, however, make the need for some commercial development a campaign issue. We are aware of several instances where the boards (planning, zoning, and town) have actively obstructed the development of more than a few businesses by pursuing personal biases rather than taking their direction from town residents who speak up at hearings and board meetings. Such residents are routinely ignored in favor of the wisdom of town officials.

For example, a recent hearing for public comment on changes to Local Law E (defining “flashing” signs) seemed aimed directly at two local businesses that want discreet electronic signage to advertise their businesses.

The town supervisor refused to answer direct questions on whether the town had received any number of local complaints about electronic signage. I can safely assume that the volume of complaints has been minimal or nonexistent, so we conclude that members of certain boards are pursuing personal agendas on this issue.

In any case, refusing to answer reasonable questions and voting in favor of the narrow flashing-sign bill shows disdain for those who testified and those who wanted simple answers. There is no reason the town board can’t carry on a conversation during public commentary. The result is two local businesses that have been frustrated and not allowed to operate at peak efficiency.

Another example of the boards’ lack of support for new businesses is the case of Triple S Farm in Feura Bush. Cindy Elliott, the Triple S owner, was forced by the boards to spend tens of thousands of dollars on duplicative studies and was delayed by more than a year to open a simple wedding-venue business on her own property.

This is not a way to encourage sound business development. The boards would almost certainly respond that only planning professionals would understand the nuances involved in such a complex set of issues.  True planning professionals would not take more than a year to figure this one out.

As I said, this obstruction by town government is a campaign issue this year. Craig Shufelt, the Republican candidate for town board, and Tim Stanton, our Republican candidate for Albany County Legislature, can be part of the solution to a town board that hamstrings and obstructs local business development.

By the way, the New Scotland Town Board is a Democrat-endorsed monopoly. Monopolies are bad in business and an echo-chamber monopoly is especially bad in local government, particularly when they hold businesses hostage. Who would want to open a business in this climate?

Craig Shufelt fully understands these issues and would be a great addition to a town board that needs new voices and to get out of the way of business while maintaining our rural character.

Deane Fish, chairman

New Scotland

Republican Committee

Editor’s note: State law requires towns, before adopting a law, to hold a public hearing so that the legislative body may gather information. According to the state’s Division of Local Government Services, outlining hearing procedures, “The chair should instruct the witness to present his/her testimony to the board, not to the public. The chair should also prevent others from interrupting the testimony. The board members may want to ask questions of witnesses in order to clarify facts and opinions presented in their testimony. In addition to questioning witnesses, the board may permit members of the public to question witnesses at the hearing. If it does so, the board should be careful not to turn the hearing into a debate.”

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