Bureaucratic response typical of small-town officials

To the Editor:

Reading Mr. [Jeffrey] Baker’s and Supervisor [Thomas] Dolin’s response to my letter of Oct. 24, I was reminded of the typical bureaucratic response from small-town officials who cannot make a decision or who are bullied into a decision by the controlling officer of the town. Let me explain.

Mr. Baker describes the informal presentation before the planning board and stated that "it generated no action by the board.” During that presentation time, there was much verbal conversation taking place between all parties including Mr. Baker; Mr. [Charles] Voss, planning board chairman; and members of the presenting firm.

The scope of activities that were proposed to take place on the aforementioned property [owned by Sharon and Chet Boehlke] was thoroughly described both verbally and written. There was much discussion regarding the appropriate terminology that should be used when applying for the necessary permits, etc.

It is clearly my recollection that it was the recommendation of Mr. Jeff Baker that the project would be best served under the definition of a "trucking terminal.” He also stated to the board, that it was his recommendation that the town become "lead agency" on the project.

Much more discussion ensued on the issues stated in the May 7 minutes of the planning board (which can be viewed on the town’s website), including the scheduling of a public hearing for June 4, 2013.

There were residents from New Scotland South Road present at that meeting who asked a few questions about traffic, sound, and business hours.

Because the minutes of the May 7 meeting were sketchy at best and lacking some of what I thought was the important verbal statements made by all involved parties, I requested a copy of the recorded taped session from Mr. [Jeremy] Cramer. For over three months, I was continually told the minutes were not brought back from the secretary, but was assured that I would be able to obtain a copy if I brought my own tape for recording, which I did.

Ultimately, I never was able to obtain those minutes [the tape-recorded meeting] because we were finally told that the minutes had somehow been erased and were now unavailable. How convenient. So began "she said,” "he said.”

Now let’s talk about Mr. Dolin’s statements that he has no control over what happens within the independent body of the planning board, adding that he had no input to any decisions. 

I can only tell you that during two phone conversations with Mr. Dolin, he was adamant that he was not in favor of the project, did not want it in this town, and that he would not let the project become a reality.

It should also be noted that this project had a no formal decision from the planning board because again, it is my strong opinion that Mr. Dolin’s adamant objection influenced other decision-making officials to follow his lead. Hence, the letter from Mr. [Jeremy] Cramer [building inspector and zoning administrator for New Scotland]  dated July 18, 2013 forcing the project directly to the zoning board of appeals for further input.

I have since been informed that the recordings of the planning board meetings and the zoning of board of appeals meetings were only kept until the minutes were approved (approximately two months).

How absurd that recordings to very important decision-making boards are destroyed so quickly. Frequently, some of the most important discussion takes place within the confines of the meetings but are not deemed to be important enough to be put in the official written minutes at the time, but, as with this situation, those recordings would have been crucial in sorting out who said what.

In closing, let me say that I did not write this letter to defend the positions I took in my previous letter, but to clarify my opinion and stress the importance of obtaining recorded minutes that would ultimately restore lacking memories, be it mine or theirs. So now, let the readers form their own opinions.

Sharon Boehlke
New Scotland

Editor’s note: The May 7, 2013 minutes of the New Scotland Planning Board state, “The Board requested that there be a long form submitted, DEC requires this form. A public hearing will be scheduled for June 4, 2013.”

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Great thanks must be extended to the memory and spirits of Emma Treadwell and John Boyd Thacher.