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It’s called ‘democratic process’

July 28, 2011

In criticizing Lumberland Concerned Citizens, Charles Petersheim overstates the power of our tiny citizens’ group while callously portraying our town board as a body of spineless decision makers incapable of original thinking. Here’s the real story:

Our group formed last November to encourage the board to reject the pat assurances of the gas industry and to consider the real impacts of drilling within the town. The board’s response was thoughtful and enthusiastic. By January, the town unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a statewide moratorium. And by February, it cosponsored, with Highland, a legal forum attended by 300 people at the high school. The entire board participated, along with most members of the planning and zoning boards. Five newspapers and one TV station covered the proceedings which explored zoning as a protection against heavy industry. Next, the Zoning Rewrite Committee was asked to draft provisions prohibiting high-impact industrial activity as part of its broader rewrite effort now culminating after two years of public sessions.

In order to give citizens ample time to digest the proposed ordinance, the board will schedule a special informational meeting, a public hearing, and a 30-day comment period over the next two months before even considering ratification.

This does not sound like a board that has “relinquished their authority,” as Mr. Petersheim charges. On the contrary, our town board should be commended for its courage in challenging the state when it comes to who should have the principal authority over quality of life in our valley—Albany or the local residents.

Rather than peevish nitpicking about the process—in fact, an earnest collaboration of citizens and town officials that, we believe, is called the democratic process—perhaps Mr. Petersheim would care to tell us what it is that he wants for our valley.

Peter Comstock, Caroline Akt, and Keith Gilmour for Lumberland Concerned Citizens

Glen Spey, NY