Friday, November 30, 2007


Today was an exceptional day. It was also a day where I was reminded of the people that have been instrumental in shaping and influencing my life.

In a society where so much seems disposable and loyalty is something that seldom exists, I was fortunate to count myself among the lucky few. Relatively young still at 43, I celebrated 20 years of employment today, a milestone not reached by anyone other than the owner of my firm. Content for it to be just another ordinary day, I was surprised to be recognized. The heartfelt appreciation for my dedication simply overwhelmed me. It won't be lost on me.

Of course, my accomplishments are not solely my own but a combination of efforts of the very many talented individuals that have supported and guided me over the years. I was quickly reminded of my parents and all the sacrifices they made that enabled me to realize today. Whatever gaps remained, my adoring wife and children provided. I am truly blessed and humbled...and I will do whatever I can to enable others in their lives to realize the joy I experienced today.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

25 or 6 to 4

2005 saw four candidates square off for two town board seats and the winners posted vote tallies of 4974 and 4930 respectively. Combined votes cast for all four totaled 17,542. Big #. Big dogs.

Mr. Mertz put up 4974. Previously, he mustered over 7000 votes in winning a special election against Mr. Cooke.

Mr. Signore put up 4930. He previously defeated Mr. Constantino for Supervisor, followed by two narrow losses to Mr. Paolino.

These two guys are bona fide vote getters and they do it in impressive fashion. These two guys are also the next ones up for re-election.

So the question becomes, Can I run with the big dogs? I’m always a believer but I don’t kid myself either. This is a potential mountain to overcome, so I’ve got my work cut out for me if I choose to throw in.

A five candidate field will likely dilute the necessary # of votes to win (assuming I’m a legitimate 5th threat) but I think it wise to plan to secure 5000 votes in order for me to emerge victorious.

If I’m going to get trounced, I couldn’t have picked a better opportunity than against these capable opponents, and that says nothing of who the Democrats might run.

A true test though. My decision will require careful consideration. I’ve been told it can’t be done. Not my way anyway. And even if it can, will it matter? Big questions for a little dog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Time to reflect and give thanks. Today is a day of family, friends, good food and relaxation…at least for the fortunate. I thank God for my good fortune and for the ability to try to help out those with greater burdens than my own. No matter what your troubles, take a moment to reflect on your blessings. Put it all in perspective. Life is precious so enjoy yours and do what you can to help others enjoy theirs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Comprehensive Planning

The importance of town comprehensive planning cannot be overstated. The Town Comprehensive Plan is the blueprint for where the town should be headed and the guide for making appropriate planning decisions. Of course, as time elapses the document is intended to be reviewed and updated on a specified periodic basis to ensure the goals and objectives remain valid and relevant.

Development of responsible zoning designations and performance standards are critical to actually realize many of the stated goals of any Plan. Effective land use doesn’t just happen. It’s planned for in advance.

One of the more serious, and often overlooked, problems in our town is failure to maintain a viable, updated Comp Plan. Too many times, planning decisions have been subjective, resulting in the plethora of spot zoning decisions and ill-conceived projects that have complicated further growth initiatives and eroded quality of life for so many residents. It shouldn’t have happened and it certainly doesn’t have to continue.

Recently, many positive steps have been taken to try to address exactly this. Critical Impact legislation was passed by the Town, new zoning designations are being developed, and several CDTC studies have been conducted at the major interchanges that serve the Town. While all these things are positive moves, they must be incorporated into the Town Comp Plan to realize any significance. That Plan update is grossly overdue. Moreover, the Plan was already seriously deficient and the Town has been delinquent in its application to decision-making anyway.

My displeasure with the decision-making of the Planning Commission in various matters is a well known matter of record. I’ll discuss reform or abolishment of that body in another post but I have to question their decisions when they’re based, at best, on an outdated guiding document.

I think in my next post I’ll examine my semi-controversial advocacy of using a quite effective land use tool, moratoria, to help rectify the Comp Plan problems. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the Town Of Rotterdam Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement:

The main objective that the Town of Rotterdam would like to achieve as reflected in the theme of this Vision Statement is to preserve the Town's character and identity, while allowing for environmentally sound growth and development. The only way to achieve this is to develop a set of goals and policies that will guide town officials to make appropriate decisions regarding land use.

Among the goals identified as essential in maintaining a satisfactory quality of life for the Town of Rotterdam residents, business owners, and visitors are:

1) Provide an effective stewardship of the environment to protect critical and sensitive areas, maintain water quality, and conserve land, air, water, and energy resources by taking advantage of existing plans or ongoing planning activities such as watershed management plans, regional and local transportation plans, and other resource protection plans.

2) Encourage changes that promote a healthy environment in which to live by encouraging responsible development that limits noise pollution and traffic congestion, provides for pedestrian safety, discourages growth in environmentally sensitive areas, protects cultural resources, and provides high quality community design.

3) Utilize local human resources whenever possible to encourage local involvement in community actions and enhance community pride. This should include continued encouragement of public and private involvement in community traditions, as well as encouragement of volunteerism and activism.

These goals shall endure as the comprehensive plan is implemented, specific measurable tasks are accomplished, and changes occur. As the comprehensive plan is updated in the future to account for changing conditions, the goals in this Vision Statement will provide direction for future revisions. The Town will revise its development ordinances as necessary to implement the objectives of the Vision Statement and Comprehensive Plan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Accountability. It's this concept which is probably the single most important when it comes to assessing achievement. Sure, no one likes it when they fail at achieving the desired goal. But how many actually admit the misstep and do something to rectify it? Everyone makes mistakes but only a select few truly overcome them. They're the ones that put aside excuses, take responsibility for the error, and then fix it. Find that in a politician and you've got the right man on the job.

This relates directly to what's bugging me particularly today. The woods across the street from me were cut down yesterday and a makeshift road to gain access to deeper woods has been crafted. Big deal? Only if the activity in question is questionable. The Planning Commission already ruled more than once that such activity would be strictly regulated by them when they denied these planned actions nearly a year ago. To my knowledge, that hasn't changed. And yet the trees are rapidly disappearing. I'm no tree-hugger, just a student of the law. This land has previously been subject to a Positive Declaration under SEQRA. I'm curious who'll be accountable.

A New Voice

"A Nice Place To Live." That's the motto of the Town of Rotterdam in New York. I live there. For the most part, the motto is true. For the other part, when you strain to fathom how the motto is even remotely true...well, that's what this blog will attempt to address.

There are a lot of important issues facing our Town. These are generally difficult times, however, as the Town tries to cope with the inadequacies of the recent reassessment, economic growth challenges, and divisive politics. Sounds much like what many other towns are faced with and we're not unique. What could be unique is how we choose to address these and other challenges.

I don't pretend to have all the answers. God knows, they aren't easy to come by. What I do offer are views and suggestions. I'll criticize plenty along the way but I hope to be constructive and offer alternative solutions too.

I know the question you're already asking. If I think I know so much better than our elected officials why don't I run for office? Valid question. I've been involved as a concerned citizen on various issues but that's certainly a different role. I've vaguely considered a run but I just didn't think I was the best candidate to accomplish what needed to be done. I'm pretty sure now I made a mistake by not running. I haven't been able to affect the necessary changes as an outsider even if I've been successful in helping bring issues into the light. But am I electable? I'll leave that for a later blog unto itself.

So off we go...