Bethlehem Town Board holds off on filling Planning Board seats

The Bethlehem Town Board took many of the actions needed to set 2010 town operations in motion at its Wednesday, Jan. 13, organizational meeting, but decided to hold off on making a decision about two vacancies on the Planning Board.

The Town Board appointed current Planning Board member Daniel Coffey to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a five-year term, and also appointed him chairman of that entity. He replaces outgoing member and chairman Michael Hodom. Planning Board member Katherine McCarthy's seat is also up. She has served on the board since 2003.

Supervisor Sam Messinapresiding over his first Town Board meeting in that officesaid that a posting for resumes for the Planning Board and Zoning Board openings on the town's Web site had generated "a fair amount of qualified candidates," and members of the Town Board will continue doing their due diligence to vet these candidates in coming days.

There exists another course of action altogether, said Councilman Kyle Kotary. The town could restructure the Planning Board and eliminate the two vacant seats to make the board a five-member entity as a cost savings measure.

Planning Board members make a $5,263 annual salary, and the chairman makes $13,936.

Messina said the Town Board would be examining the options in hopes of returning to the issue at its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The board cannot meet as a whole before then without giving public notice, according to open meetings law.

The rest of the organizational agenda mostly consisted of reappointments. A selection follows:

George Leveille, chairman of the Planning Board; James Potter, town attorney; Susan Leath, town historian; Michael Morelli, director of economic development and planning; and Josh Cansler, commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

The board also unanimously voted to add Dec. 31 to the list of town holidays. Christmas and New Year's will fall on Saturdays, and the town will observe both holidays on the preceding day.

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