In the Town of Southampton, the planner has too much control of information that goes in front of the planning and zoning boards. It is the responsibility of the planner to add, share and report on all information that is submitted to a decision-making board. The planner should not be the “gatekeeper” for what is voted on; when information is not communicated to the board, and the planner does not present stakeholders’ comments submitted for consideration, it taints the ability of the board to make honest decisions based on all submitted information.
It is not only comments that are omitted; critical data and studies are not included to what is presented to the boards. There seems to be a lack of quality control in this role. Planners work with applicants to address their needs in a statement or report for the boards. Stakeholders and those impacted by the applicant plans have no opportunity to comment on the planner’s report.
There is a critical vote at the Planning Board work session. There is information that has not been added to the draft report prepared by the town planner. The board can vote to deny the application without prejudice, which will allow them to view additional information while the applicant’s lawyer can resubmit the application. This will allow more time for the board to perform due diligence in addressing SEQRA elements. The opposing legal counsel may complain, but this action only will ensure the needs of the community are considered.
Those who do not vote for opening the SEQRA and putting the application in a “hold state” are not fulfilling their responsibility to the Town Board that appointed them, and to the town residents.
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