Chair of Chatham town Planning Board resigns

CHATHAM–The Town Board has accepted the resignation of Marilyn Cohen, chairperson of the town Planning Board. Ms. Cohen’s letter of resignation says she will stay on the board until the end of the year.

Town Clerk Beth Anne Rippel said at last week’s Town Board meeting that Ms. Cohen asked that her letter of resignation be read into the record at the December 15 session. Town Councilman Henry Swartz read the letter out loud after Supervisor Maria Lull declined to read it.

Ms. Cohen, who sent a copy of the letter to The Columbia Paper, wrote that she was resigning due to “fundamental differences I have with the new administration.” She said she had not been consulted about appointments, including legal counsel and a Planning Board clerk, adding, “People we are currently working with have simply been foisted upon us.”

“It is clear to me that this current Town Board wishes to control the actions of the Planning Board, and this is something that I will not take part in,” Ms. Cohen wrote.

During the public comment section of the meeting, resident Mike Blasl asked about other resignations in the town, including five members of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He asked whether their letters of resignations are available for the public to read. Ms. Lull said they are.

He also asked that information about what Town Board members are paid in other towns be given to the Citizens Finance Committee for review for next year’s budget process.

Also at the meeting:

• The board passed a resolution for an Energy Benchmarking Policy through the state’s Clean Energy Community program. The town will log its energy use to look at ways to be more energy efficient. Robyn Reynolds of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission attended the meeting to talk about the program and the progress that town’s Climate Smart Communities program is making. “The town is making great progress,” Ms. Reynolds said of the goals of the town Climate Smart Committee

• Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo announced that he had negotiated a deal with Charter for cable TV for a 5% franchise fee for five years. The town had asked for both 5% of local cable TV service revenues and a five-year term for agreement. The 5% fee represents an increase in the amount the town receives for authorizing the company to use public property to provide service. Mr. Ferlazzo said he had negotiated the 5-year agreement, which had previously been a 10-year contract, saying, “It keeps them on a shorter leash.”

The board set the 2017 organizational meeting for Monday, January 2 at 6 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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