At the Saugerties Planning Board meeting on Tuesday December 20th, the Board made a couple of important decisions. After hearing lengthy presentations from Terramor’s lawyers and contractors, the Board voted:
1) to retain as many of their own experts and consultants as needed to properly address the issues raised by the application
2) to have an informational public session at the next Board meeting.
It’s important to note, once again, that this is NOT the formal “Public Hearing” required by law. The Board has not yet scheduled that Hearing. That will come later.
To clarify what we can expect at the January 17th meeting I emailed the Planning Board Chair the following questions (in blue). Below each question is the answer he provided (in red, and lightly edited for clarity)
- Q: Please could you advise on the exact name we should give this event? Is it a SEQR deliberation? Is there a more formal/different name?
A: It is an informational public [session] for the board to hear public comments and concerns
- Q: Does the Public input portion have a particular name?
A: It does not
- Q: Is it safe to say that this is an opportunity for the Public to advise the Board on the particular areas that the Public thinks the Board should focus on in the Board’s deliberation about a Positive/Negative declaration and further SEQR scoping?
A: I would word that differently. The board is quite familiar with the SEQR process and we focus on ALL areas of the process. For the public to “advise” the board would be a reversal of roles.
- Q: Can we assume that this is also an opportunity for any technical experts to present (in the manner of the experts presenting last night)?
A: It is a chance for any technical experts hired by the public to speak. They would sign up just the same as the public would and would be allowed to speak with the same time constraint.
- Q: How, exactly, do you see the Public input portion proceeding? You mentioned a sign-up sheet and the desire to reduce the number of repetitive comments. Will the sign up sheet be first come first served?
A: It will be first come, first serve, with a predetermined time constraint (thinking 5 minutes)
- Q: If you were to write a paragraph describing your ideal description of this part of the process and the Public’s particular involvement, I’d be happy to transmit it to the folks on the site.
A: The whole purpose of this informational public [session] is for the board to gather comments from the public on any material presented by the applicant to date . We will then take these comments into consideration while going over all material [received] to date.
(End of answers from PB Chair)
We do not yet know where in the agenda this session might be placed. It’s possible that it might be at the very start of proceedings. It might also be in Old Business. This is left to the discretion of the Board and depends on other factors such as formal Public Hearings. We will find out when the Agenda is published, likely late in the first week or early in the second week of January.
Interested members of the Public should attend, as they did in such encouraging numbers on Tuesday evening. But not all attendees need to speak. While it’s important that the Public’s voice be heard, it’s equally important to minimize repetition. Coordination of speakers and subjects should be managed carefully. Thus, if an expert has already spoken about a particular subject and has eloquently addressed the most important facets of that subject, subsequent speakers should refrain from repeating those very same points. The Board is very well aware of the importance of this project and the Public’s interest in it. They will know that for every person who speaks, there are many, many more who share the concerns of those who have spoken.
This post may be updated with further notes as we learn more.