Brocton, Portland evaluating Planning, Zoning Board mergers | News, Sports, Jobs

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Portland City Council member Tammy Thompson is also one of three members of the Brocton Village Zoning Board of Appeals. Both municipalities are evaluating options with fewer members on planning and zoning boards.

PORTLAND — As the City of Portland and Village of Brocton struggle to find and retain members on local boards, the chairs of the Brocton and Portland planning boards have each expressed interest in merging with their neighbor respective during recent meetings.

“We have a problem here in the village: it is difficult to convince the members of the two boards of directors to mobilize,” said Brocton Planning Board Chairman Bill Westin.

At a previous Brocton Village board meeting, the possibility of eliminating the planning board to merge with the zoning board of appeals was discussed. In this scenario, Brocton would have a single board overseeing the current functions of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. The village is required to have a zoning board of appeals, but it is not required to have a planning board.

At the Portland City Board's next monthly meeting following Brocton's discussion of the issue, Portland Planning Board Chairman Dale Carlson addressed the topic. He said that during a recent annual training he attended, municipalities were asked not to merge the two boards into one comprehensive zoning appeals board, calling that option a “last resort.”

Carlson suggested that the city and village instead partner to merge their current planning and zoning boards to create a planning board and zoning appeals board to serve both the city and village.

A week after Carlson's comments at the Portland city board meeting, Westin attended Brocton Village's monthly board meeting to suggest the same approach.

Shared planning and zoning boards would be agreed to in the form of a shared services agreement, similar to many other shared services between the city and village, including highway service, dog control and enforcement of the code. Portland Town Supervisor Rich Lewis also serves as wastewater treatment supervisor for the Village of Brocton, while Brocton Zoning Board Member Tammy Thompson is also a Portland Town Council member.

The Portland Planning Board is currently comprised of Carlson, Harold Smith, Mike McIntyre, Dave Travis and Robert Patterson, Sr., with the need for two alternates. Portland's Zoning Board of Appeals has just three members: Mike Riforgiato, Mike Felsman and Lowell Reynolds.

Brocton's planning board currently consists of Westin, Bill Maher, Steve Mawhir and Terry Presto, with alternates also needed. Like Portland, Brocton's Zoning Board of Appeals consists of just three members: Signe Rominger, Tammy Thompson and Donna Frost, with one of three members expressing a desire to resign. Planning Board members also expressed a desire to step down in future years.

“(The Zoning Board) should somehow come up with 3 to 4 members, and the Planning Board should come up with 3 to 4 members,” » Westin said.

Carlson also noted that during the recent training he attended, he learned that there is a statewide problem regarding the recruitment and retention of planning and zoning board members. Carlson asked why the public has shown no interest and also shared the belief that if residents were better informed about the functions of planning and zoning boards, there would be more interest.

“In my opinion, if this city hopes to recruit valuable resources from its citizens, it must find a way to communicate and recruit effectively. » » Carlson said.

Lewis later pointed out that two village trustees were elected last November after they both ran unopposed.

“It’s a general lack of interest in society in general” Lewis said.

No final decision has been made on the matter. If a merger between the municipalities were to take place, the municipal council and the village council would have to approve the agreement before it takes effect.

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