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Saturday, October 25, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,
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County board's numbers changed

Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - Updated: 8:14 PM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature approved changing the makeup of the county planning board last Tuesday.

The change reduces the current 15-member planning board to nine members, reflecting the changes made to the county government from a board of supervisors to the new legislature.

"This change is two-fold," Economic Development and Planning Department Director Kenneth Rose said. "It was to mirror the new government, but the second part is we have historically had issues obtaining a quorum. It was difficult to get a majority of the members at the monthly meeting."

Currently, the 15-member planning board represents each of the 10 towns in the county, and each of the five wards of the city of Amsterdam, mirroring the former representation of the now-defunct board of supervisors.

Rose said a 15-member board required a minimum of eight members at a meeting. By reducing the board to nine, only five members are required to conduct business.

"We thought it would be a lot easier because there are dedicated members that attend every meeting," he said.

Rose said that each district legislator will appoint a person later this month to represent that district on the planning board. Two alternate members will be selected by County Executive Matthew Ossenfort to represent him.

"The next step is to draft a resolution to appoint the members," Rose said. "I know that some [legislators] have been reaching out to individuals to see if they want to serve on the board."

Rose suspects that some of the current members will continue to serve.

He said the change in the planning board comes at a time when there are several large development projects anticipated.

"This change comes at an opportune time," Rose said. "We are working on some projects that we would hope to announce shortly. We also have a capital project process now so we would like to potentially utilize them and bounce some ideas off them as well."

The terms of each of the planning board members would also change from staggered terms to three-year terms that run consecutively with that of the district legislator. However, the two alternate members would continue to be reappointed every two years. In the event a vacancy occurs other than by expiration of a term, it shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term, the resolution states.

The chairman, vice chairman and secretary of the planning board will be elected annually from the membership. According to the resolution, the alternates will serve at the discretion of the Planning Board chairman, when regular board members are unavailable.

The role of the planning board is to formulate and recommend to the legislature major development policies in the form of statements, plans, maps and other appropriate materials to serve as reference guides with the objective of achieving an orderly, attractive, harmonious and economically sound development pattern, according to the resolution.

Such policies shall relate to: land use, population density, transportation facilities, including roads and highways, parks, recreation areas, open space, community appearance, economic development, and public infrastructure.

At this month's economic development and planning committee meeting, Chairman and District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly was in favor of changing the board because "it would be good to partner the legislative body with the planning board so there is equal representation."

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler had said the change would be beneficial because it would provide accountability on both levels.

     

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