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BALLSTON: Land panel disbands

One member of the land conservation committee in the town of Ballston blasted the town council for its inaction and resigned, along with two other committee members, Tuesday night, July 3, at the council's regular business meeting.

Reading from a pagelong prepared statement, Scott Miller accused the board of doing little when it came to protecting what have been identified as the special places of Ballston.

"Despite the extraordinary effort on the part of the committee members and many other volunteers, the town council has failed to act in any substantive fashion to preserve Ballston's special places," Miller said. "No significant or comprehensive protection of open space and agriculture can be achieved without reducing the property town tax burden on large owners, or enabling them to realize equity on their property without subdivision. The council has had more than adequate time to enact at least a few substantive policies, but has refused to do so, or even to have a meaningful public discussion of these proposals."

The letter of resignation was signed by committee members Miller, Bob Cawley and Robin Larkin. The fourth committee member, Gary Bynon, did not sign the letter.

Miller credited the board for action on several "minor" proposals, such as putting up right-to-farm law signs, initiating funds for a farmers market, and buying 5 acres of wetlands for an addition to a nature preserve. However, he remained highly critical of the speed in which the council worked to update the 15-year-old town comprehensive plan, and in responding to the conservation committee's ideas and proposals since their formation in 2004.

Town Supervisor Ray Callanan said he was stunned by Miller's statements Tuesday night, and hadn't received any word from the Ballston residents on the committee prior to the meeting.

"This is the first I've heard of it; there was no warning about this, and it came out of nowhere," said Callanan. "It's disappointing there wasn't any discussion with the board and this had to come to a public gathering."

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