Hartford residents want to have their say at planning board meetings

B y Jaime Thomas

Several Hartford residents are frustrated that they weren’t given a chance to voice their opinions about a new business.

During a town board meeting last Tuesday, resident Russell Wade told Supervisor Dana Haff that he and a number of other residents were cut off from speaking at a recent planning board meeting.

“Basically they said, ‘Be quiet. We’re not going to listen to you; we don’t have to listen to you,’” Wade said Friday.

Haff explained to Wade that the board doesn’t have to let the public speak unless there is a planned public hearing, but Wade was not satisfied.

“Sometimes it just settles people down. I just think its common courtesy,” he said. “You’re serving the town, and that’s who’s there—the people.”

On Monday, Planning Board Chair Mike Swezey said no one asked to speak during the meeting.

“If the public asked to speak, I probably would’ve let them speak,” he said.

He said the meeting was intended to be informational and therefore didn’t have a scheduled public hearing; the Hartford planning board does not offer a regular comment period.

During the meeting Wade attended, Swezey said the noise from commenting was getting muddled for Town Clerk Denise Petteys’ taped recordings.

“She wasn’t going to be able to hear the planning board over all the talking, so I asked them to quiet down,” he said.

Wade pointed out that the even the typically non-controversial youth commission, on which he serves, always gives the public an opportunity to speak.

“They do a nice job, but I feel that they should have a public comment period,” he said.

The controversy during the meeting centered on Peter Zayachek’s proposal to establish a transformer repair, maintenance and recycling facility on Route 149.

“He’s trucking in PCBs. Someone should start watching the planning board a little closer,” Wade said.

Both Swezey and Haff said heavy regulations will prevent the business from bringing toxins into the area. The industrial capacitors will be washed twice before they come onto the sight, and there will be kerosene on sight to wash them again.

“As far as hazards to the people of Hartford, everything has to be contained in the building and accounted for. They have to comply with DEC and DEA regulations,” Swezey said. “The person who’s doing it has been running a reputable business for a long time now.”

There will be a public hearing regarding the business next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at the town offices.

Appointments, donations, budget

During Tuesday’s meeting, the town board also appointed Amber Mercure Lindgren as a full-time member of the youth commission. Chris DeBolt was appointed to fill an unexpired term as a planning board alternate.

When it was his turn to give a report, Town Historian Mike Armstrong told the board Hartford’s museum recently received a $5,000 donation and is being repainted. The Hartford Historical Society is paying for half of the project, for which Salem Hardware gave a 20 percent discount on paint.

Haff said the board will begin work on a preliminary budget, for which there will be a public hearing on Oct. 8.

“I’m hoping to keep any increase in the local tax levy to 1 percent,” he said.

The next board meeting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.  

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