Join us in rallying support for Hitmans towing
To the Editor:
I feel I can speak for myself and Kristen Reynders (owner of Hitmans Towing) when I say thank you to all who showed up at the Feb. 11 Knox Town Board meeting on her behalf. Thanks to those of you who spoke in support of Hitmans and businesses in Knox.
I’m not sure how to begin with this recap of the meeting. I’d thought I’d seen it all, but the town board has blown my mind yet again. I could write pages and pages on the despicable behavior of the town board, but will refrain and say that I sincerely regret not having my video recorder with me, because some of the evening’s dialogue truly had to be seen to be believed.
A brief note of kudos to Mr. [Michael] Hammond for finally publishing his supervisor’s schedule on the town’s website; however, let it be known that the Hitmans discussion was not included despite the fact that Mr. Hammond was asked twice by Anna Wolfe to have it added. Needless to say, we took full advantage of the public comments portion of the program.
Upon arriving at the meeting, audience members were greeted by, not one, but three sheriff’s deputies! Apparently, our notifications to attend to the residents and letters to the editor got out and the town board threw out the red carpet for us. Nice to know the town board thinks so highly of Knox residents that it calls for armed reinforcements when we come in asking for support of businesses in Knox. Seems like they already knew they would say no, in one way or another, to our requests.
Item one on the supervisor’s schedule was public comments, so for the first 1.5 hours, the public did just that. At least eight people spoke up in support of Hitmans Towing, myself included.
One of those, who made us all proud, was Kristen’s Realtor, Robert Smith, who informed the town board that he had, in fact, approached Knox’s building and zoning administrator, Bob Delaney, four years ago before Kristen even made an offer on the property and was informed by Mr. Delaney, that, since there was a functioning garage there, she’d be OK to conduct her business due to a pre-existing use.
Mr. Smith informed the town board that it’s possible, should they not make it right for her, they could be held personally responsible should she file a lawsuit. After their inexcusable behavior and arrogant attitudes Tuesday night, I hope she does just that.
The town attorney, John Dorfman was, again, running the meeting for the ever-present yet disconnected Mike Hammond. Mr. Dorfman, again, monopolized the town board’s end of the conversation, all the while not saying anything understandable and not answering any questions. There are some tax dollars at work!
It literally got to the point where the audience was hollering for Mr. Dorfman to stop talking and hollering at Mr. Hammond and the other board members to step up and start responding and answering questions. They were repeatedly reminded that they are the elected officials, not Mr. Dorfman.
The town board was given, quite specifically, at least three different options to solve the problem with Hitmans being a non-conforming business. In Section 70A of the town’s zoning ordinance, it clearly states: The Town Board may, from time to time, on its own motion, or on petition, or on recommendation from the Planning Board, amend the regulations and districts established under this Ordinance after public notice and hearing in each case. All petitions for any amendment of the regulations or districts herein established shall be filed in writing in a form required by the Town Board, and shall be accompanied by a certified check in an amount in accordance with the schedule of fees promulgated from time to time by the Town Board to help defray the cost of advertising the hearing on said petition and incidental disbursements
I had previously asked the former town clerk, Kim Swain, the above mentioned “…form required…” and “…an amount…” needed to submit a petition, to which, despite her eight years on the job, she was unaware. My thought is, such form does not exist. I specifically asked the town board about the same, but I did not receive an answer.
That was, in fact, the theme of the evening. Dozens of questions were asked of the town board without any clear answers. The list is literally too numerous to include here.
In the long run, the town board fell back on its reliance on the planning board to advise it on any proposed changes to the zoning ordinance. Mr. Vas Lefkaditis pointed out that, in doing so, the town board is giving town governance power to the planning board.
Board Member Nick Viscio stated that the town board would only invoke its power mentioned in 70A (without the planning board’s advisement) if there were an egregious circumstance.
Mr. Ed Ackroyd asked if the town board had ever done that before, to which Mr. Hammond responded no, only to be reminded by Mr. Ackroyd that the board had, in fact, overridden a vote by the planning board in regards to the cell tower that sits on Street Road. The planning board voted that down, 6 to 1, but the town board voted to have the cell tower installed anyway.
Mr. Lefkaditis asked Mr. Viscio why the cell tower was considered egregious and this situation with Hitmans and the public outcry was not. Another unanswered question.
I was asked by Mr. Smith to put a motion to the town board (since none of its members stepped up to do this at his request) that would make a public garage, which it has deemed Hitmans to be, a conditional use in a residential district, rather than the current not-permitted use. Mr. Smith then proceeded to ask each board member to take ownership of that motion and all declined.
Tell me again, weren’t three of these folks promoting businesses in Knox during last fall’s election campaign? Do I dare say it, could it be? Were they simply saying yes to the hot topic at that moment to win votes?
No, she replies, dripping with sarcasm, that can’t be it. They have the best interest of this town at heart, right? The way I see, as do many others, is they have their own interests at heart for the town and, if your ideas or desires don’t fit in, then don’t expect their support or permission.
So where do we go from here? Our next step is planning board, since the town board bows to its wisdom and authority; we ask loudly and on bended knee, that you all join us at this Thursday’s (Feb. 13) planning board meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Knox Town Hall. Just like Tuesday night, we will voice our opinions and support of Hitmans Towing and businesses in Knox. Please join us.
Editor’s note: Pamela Fenoff ran against supervisor Michael Hammond in November.
Inspector Gennaro Appell with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies regularly attend town board meetings to stay informed and, on Tuesday, the deputy going to the Knox meeting was being shadowed by two deputies learning the job.