By Michael Turton
With public input now complete, the Special Board met on Oct. 28 to map out a strategy to make final revisions to the draft Comprehensive Plan document. Revisions will be drawn from comments made at two public meetings and a number of written comments submitted prior to the close of the week-long public hearing period. Members of the Special Board will also have one last opportunity to make their case for any other changes. Once revisions are complete, a favorable vote by the Special Board will send the recommended plan to the Village Board.
The Oct. 28 agenda had optimistically included “a vote on recommending the draft plan” however it was decided very early in the meeting to defer that vote. Instead, Special Board secretary Marie Early was front and center at the meeting. Early presented a comprehensive printed listing of all two hundred and twenty five comments received as a result of the public hearing. She also made a number of multi-part motions that were passed, detailing how the Special Board would proceed.
A key decision addressed solicitation of comments from Cold Spring’s four standing boards. Members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Historic District Review Board and the Recreation Commission were sent copies of the draft plan after last week’s meeting. Members of those boards will be briefed at a special Nov. 16 meeting and will have until Nov. 30 to submit written comments to both the Special Board and Village Board. It was also decided to form a subcommittee of the Special Board to evaluate comments from the standing boards and to recommend revisions to the plan based on those comments. Special Board members were also given a homework assignment at last week’s meeting. Each member will receive a detailed spreadsheet from Early, consolidating all proposed Special Board responses to final comments on the plan: voting yay or nay on each. Those voting against a particular comment will be required to provide a rationale for rejecting the idea. After all responses are evaluated and recommendations made by the subcommittee, the Special Board will meet on Dec.9 to review and vote. Special Board members will also have until Nov. 11 to identify any issues not addressed in Early’s comprehensive listing.
Budget costs and procedures
In other business the Special Board voted to request an additional $1,000 from the Village Board to cover costs relating to the Nove. 16 briefing. Representatives of Green Plan, the consulting firm that is assisting with the final stages of the Comprehensive Plan, will be asked to attend the briefing. Expenses associated with that meeting were not included in the Special Board’s budget. Cathryn Fadde, who serves as treasurer for the Special Board, was caught off guard by the budget request and expressed her displeasure with Early for recommending it without first consulting with her. “I’m not really pleased”¦you took over the role of treasurer. If (you had) shared this with me I would have been much more prepared.” Fadde and Catharine Square voted against the motion to approve the budget request.
Special Board member Marshall Mermell also wasn’t pleased either but it had nothing to do with the budget. Mermell said that during public meetings to discuss the plan “I don’t think that our (the Special Board) leadership should be getting into arguments with the public. Our role is to listen. How can someone be told that it is not important for the public to know the details? The problem is the perception (that causes) in the public’s mind.” Mermell did not specify who he was referring to and no one on the Special Board took up his comments.
In an email to philipstown.info, Special Board chair Mike Armstrong clarified a question raised at least week’s meeting regarding whether or not a second public hearing would be required to review any final revisions the board may make to the draft plan. Armstrong’s email stated that ,””¦the (New York) Department of State agreed they had erred in their original comment on “¦holding of comprehensive plan hearings. The Special Board is not”¦required to hold an additional hearing after the first hearing “¦before the plan may be recommended to the Village Trustees.”