ABCO has proposed that the town establish a community based and community staffed steering committee to move the ideas of Resolution 380 forward...for far too long this process has been essentially closed to meaningful community and civic input and direction. Some of the horrid results of the recent plan demonstrate why every community must have a meaningful voice in choosing and designing the directions the town takes to preserve the Watershed, the type, locations and scope of code changes that would permit or allow higher density multi-family housing, as well as actions to find and codify a solution that could remedy the failures of the original Pine Barrens TDR program. ABCO urges you and your neighbors and we sincerely hope to see many of your communities at the up-coming community input and outreach sessions scheduled for Wednesday evening May 30th @ 6PM and Saturday June 2nd @ 1PM
On Thursday, May 24th, another un posted and unannounced meeting of the original Study Group (members Dick Amper, Jim Tripp, Jeff Kassner, Kevin McDonald, Tulio Bertoli, Chairman Dr. Lee Koppelman and LIBI officers Mitch Pally and Mike Kelly, as well as the Pine Barren Commission's John Pavacic, among several others was held. Luckily, someone got wind of the latest unannounced meeting time and location, and let us know about it. ABCO and others were in attendance...much to the Study Group's surprise.
The Agenda included discussions on a draft for a group letter as a means to oppose moving ahead with roadmap outlined in Reso 380, passed on 4/24 by a vote of 7-0. Resolution 380 set up concept idea for developing community input and establishing a new process that actually decouples the several agendas of the study group plan. We were pleased to hear study group member, Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, state he was unwilling to sign onto any letter that proposed to move the original Study Group plan forward, and was fully committed to working with our communities and the town to develop a better plan. He reiterated the the plan had no water quality numerical standards in it, and thus was not a watershed or water-quality preservation plan.
A draft letter some six pages long was presented for member consideration. The draft letter disputes the evidence and facts that many residents & board members stated that the process included closed door meetings, inadequate outreach and public participation and also clearly blamed the failure of the plan on the school districts, residents and civics. The group planned to send a lengthy letter to the town board, advising why the latest version of their plan SHOULD AND MUST be accepted, and why the town council should not pay attention to the voiced concerns of the communities and their desire to be included in any process going forward. The group as a whole was asked to join together in a concerted effort to push for approval of the March 2012 plan and allow the plan to be implemented and moved forward;.either at the town or even perhaps could be imposed by NYS.
Since we were able to get the word out late Wednesday evening some of the community was able to make the 10 AM meeting, and Councilman Dan Panico also was able to attend. Pancio also confronted Mr. Amper regarding a recent PBS letter sent to all residents of the 6th council district accusing him among other things as not caring about the environment and taking money from developers in exchange for vote on projects...The Councilman was very annoyed...but clearly asserted that the town board and the community as a whole will develop a plan that will deal with all the issues and can really work. He stated what is good in the study group plan can be used in a new preservation plan. Jim Tripp stated that his belief was that without a TDR program insufficient land could even be saved.
Study Group member and LIBI CEO, Mitch Pally said the town is in violation of NYS law "right now" so if the TDR's are not passed the town would face lawsuits...presumably from the building group he heads.
Incredulously, at the very end, Mr. Amper claimed that I "was asked to be on the Study Group and refused"...a total outrageous and delibrate falsehood. ABCO has tried and avoided engaging in this type of disrepectful and distasteful dialogue, however, clearly, such a statement cannot remain uncorrected or unchallenged. Obviously, I was NOT ASKED AND DID NOT REFUSE to serve on the committee...quite the opposite. The truth is easily discerned from the official records of the Town and Pine Barrens Commission. For the record, at the October 20, 2010 Pine Barrens Commission meeting, in which Supervisor Lesko announced his Carmans River Study Group, I actually stood up and volunteered to serve on the study group and was met by stone cold silence from the Town Supervisor; immediately Mr. Amper stood up and objected to my offer stating on the record that there was "no need for any civics" to be appointed to the group.
As a personal observation, it is just unbelievable to witness some of the most outrageous behavior, statements and actions taken during this process by so-called officials and experts to quash any opposition or dissent surrounding the development of this important preservation plan,all aimed to keep every aspect of the Carmans plan intact and afloat, while working to marginalize any opposition and to take steps to continue to keep our communities out of the process almost entirely.
We cannot and will not be distracted, ABCO is concentrating on moving ahead and working hard to implement a community based process that can preserve the Watershed and perhaps even serve as a model moving forward for planning other sensitive areas in our town. Not withstanding the activities of the Study Group members and other attempts to continue to actively advance the plan presented in March; we are nonetheless mindful that pressure is being put on our state legislators, Assemblyman Englebright, Senators Lavalle and Zeldin and Assemblyman Sweeney are being pushed to offer a bill to implement the study group's plan ... yes...even in light of the unanimous vote of the town board to move in a different direction and adopt a different and more inclusive planning process for working out solutions to these issues. A sad turn of events.
We will keep your posted.