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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 21, 2010

Sherwin steps down
Brownell now chairs zoning review committee

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — A real estate agent has replaced the owner of a small business as the chair of a committee charged with updating the town’s zoning.

Bruce Sherwin resigned from his position as chairman of the town’s Zoning Review Committee in November; Kenneth Brownell was appointed as the new chairman on Tuesday.

Sherwin said he was stepping down to pass the role on to someone who could devote more time to the committee; he will no longer serve on the committee.

The committee, formed in July and charged with updating the town’s zoning codes, written 20 years ago, to align with the town’s comprehensive land-use plan, has seven members, and is bipartisan.

Sherwin, a Democrat, was appointed as chairman after Supervisor Kenneth Runion called him early last spring to discuss making zoning changes; Sherwin served on the town board with Runion from 2001 to 2005. Sherwin, at the time of his appointment, said he had often talked with Runion in the past about updating the zoning codes to make them consistent with Guilderland’s comprehensive land-use plan, which was adopted in 2001.

All members of the committee are volunteers, and Sherwin said, who works as a publisher, there were so many things that needed to be accomplished, he felt he could not dedicate the necessary amount of time to the committee.

“I had to ask myself if I really had the time. It was a hard decision, but I can’t be selfish,” said Sherwin. He said that Brownell was recommended for the chairmanship by several committee members. Brownell, who is not enrolled in a political party, has served as a member on the board since it was formed, and chaired the economic development sub-committee.

After his appointment on Tuesday, Brownell told The Enterprise that the vision of the review committee has always been to modernize the code, and that he has no plans to change that vision. The most important goal for the committee is to make the zoning codes more user friendly, he said.

“I may be the chairman, but there is a lot of talent on this board.” Brownell said. He said the committee hopes to prepare a presentation to bring before the town board by the end of March.

“Everything is just a recommendation from us. Final approval for changing the code is up to the town board,” said Brownell. He said the spring presentation will include suggestions for simplifying the codes, and, after that is finished, the committee will look at more progressive ideas for zoning change.

As a real estate agent for Vanguard-Fine, LLC, Brownell said he has taken ideas from various towns he has visited across the Northeast, and plans use them as models for Guilderland.

Some of the issues Sherwin said he felt warranted more focus were related to zoning for better protection of the environment, agricultural zoning, and zoning for Smart Growth. Brownell agreed with Sherwin on those issues, and said they will all be addressed after the modernization of the code is accomplished.

“Taking a diversified group of people and having incredibly well-run discussions is what I’m most proud of in my role as chairman,” said Sherwin. “These are incredibly bright people who put the town first.”

“There is a lot of brainpower on the committee,” Brownell agreed.

There is no deadline for the zoning review committee to finish its work, said Brownell. The full review committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month, and will continue to meet until the town board decides the committee has done enough, he said.

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