Chatham Town Board switches attorneys

CHATHAM–The Town Board is replacing attorney Tal G. Rappleyea, who has served as the town’s lawyer for the last 16 years. The board adopted a motion to hire two different attorneys to replace Mr. Rappleyea at the April 21 meeting

Town Supervisor Maria Lull said at the meeting that of the changes made in town staffing since January, “this will be the most difficult change.”

She said the board had interviewed “six or seven attorneys” after advertising the position. She offered a motion to the board to hire John Lyons of the firm Grant and Lyons in Rheinbeck, citing his experience with land use laws, and Sal Ferlazzo of the firm Girvin and Ferlazzo in Albany, noting his experience with labor laws. The board passed the motion 3-to-1.

“I think it’s bull crap that they are letting you go,” board member Henry Swartz said to Mr. Rappleyea at the meeting. Mr. Swartz was the only board member who voted against the motion. Councilwoman Landra Haber was absent.

Mr. Swartz said that the Mr. Rappleyea offered his services at a lower price than the other two attorneys. “You just don’t fit their plan,” Mr. Swartz said.

Ms. Lull said that replacing Mr. Rappleyea had nothing to do with his service, but she and Councilman Bob Balcom talked about the excellent qualifications of the two lawyers newly designated the town’s attorneys. Councilman John Wapner had no comments.

Mr. Swartz pointed out that Mr. Rappleyea had been a loyal employee of the town for many years. “And how do we reward our loyal employees? We let them go,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Rappleyea said that he had been honored to serve the town and “I will certainly do everything I can to ease the transition.”

Ms. Lull said that Mr. Rappleyea would stay on as attorney until June to wrap up some issues, one of them being the town’s contract with Charter Communications over cable television. Mr. Rappleyea reported at the meeting that Charter is waiting on approvals from the federal government for its purchase of Time Warner Cable, and that he would continue the negotiations with the company for a long-term contract.

Also at the meeting:

• The board discussed funding for the traffic light on the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham. Mr. Rappleyea said he is discussing the issue with CSX, the railroad company that replaced the bridge, to see if the company will pay for some of $180,000 project. The town received a state grant for $100,000. The board will hold a special meeting at East Chatham Fire Company on May 5

• Mike West, the new director of the town’s summer recreation program, said that prices will stay the same this summer. The board did need to increase in some salaries of summer employees due to the new state minimum wage hike

• Nan Stolzenburg was hired to work on the proposed zoning changes made by the Zoning Implementation Committee. The board plans to move forward with creating of an ad hoc advisory group to review the plan.

Next regular board meeting will be Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on Route 295.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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