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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 17, 2011

After violation, Schaming re-appointed

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — A month after being found guilty of second-degree harassment, a violation, Peter Schaming was re-appointed as Berne’s building administrator at last week’s town board meeting.

“The conviction didn’t amount to anything that should cause him to lose his job,” Supervisor George Gebe told The Enterprise after the meeting. “We’d have to fire everybody, because most people have a violation. And no one else came forward against this gentleman,” he said of Schaming. At the start of the meeting, a group of Schaming’s friends and neighbors spoke in support of his re-appointment; several have also written letters to the Enterprise editor in recent weeks in support of Schaming.

Both Schaming, 56, and his wife, Teal Schaming, 54, were convicted on Tuesday, Jan. 11, of second-degree harassment, a violation, which took place between Sept. 13, 2008, and Nov. 29, 2009, according to New Scotland Town Court records. As a result, they were charged a $150 fine. Although the Schamings live in Berne, the case was heard in New Scotland to avoid the appearance of impropriety, as Peter Schaming works for the town.

Schaming declined to comment on the record this week.

“I’m so offended by how so many people can belittle what actual harassment is,” said Donna Hanlon on Tuesday; Hanlon, who lives next to the Schamings, was one of the victims who brought the case against Schaming; the other was David Martin, with whom she lives.

“If you went through years of harassment, you wouldn’t think of it as just a parking violation,” said Hanlon. “Sometimes, the law isn’t fair. But…years of being harassed, when it takes a personal toll on you, is a heck of a lot different than a fine.”

Arresting officer Tracy Henry of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department wrote in her statement to the court that the Schamings, “with intent to harass, annoy, and alarm Donna Burkins-Hanlon and David Martin, did engage in repeated conduct that served no legitimate purpose. Actions by the defendant include, but are not limited to, hanging of offensive material along a dividing fence line (including dead animals and animal skulls), playing loud music whenever the complainants are outside, and allowing garbage to blow onto the complainants’ property.”

According to the incident report, the Schamings were playing “the same song on a constant loop” when the victims were outside of their home. The report goes on to say that the victims “feel that this ongoing behavior is a retaliation against them because they had gone to the Berne animal control officer about a barking dog complaint a few years ago.”

The New Scotland Court Decision was handed down by Judge David Wukitsch on Jan. 11. The next day, the Berne Town Board held its re-organizational meeting, and did not officially re-appoint Schaming, though he remained in the post, as the town is legally required to have a building administrator, and the board had not appointed anyone else.

Other business

In other business at its Feb. 9 meeting, the town board:

— Heard from Planning Board Chairman Gerard Chartier that the town’s wind-power moratorium will need to be renewed in April, as the planning board is still working towards developing an ordinance regulating the construction and use of wind turbines in town.

The planning board, Chartier went on, has been discussing the comments made by the public at the hearing in October, and will continue to do so at its Feb. 17 and March 17 meetings. By April, he hopes the board will have drafted a law to submit to the town board for action; and

— Heard from Councilman Peter Vance that the town’s sewer project, which has been in the planning stages for decades, may go to bid by the end of July, meaning construction could begin as early as September. The planned sewer system would be the first municipal system in town, and was required by the state because sewage from private septic systems was seeping into the Foxenkill.

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