O'Rourke to step down as Planning Board Chair

C.J. O'Rourke cites focusing on his business and ineptitude of planning department as reasons for resignation

Following conflict with the Colonie Planning Department, Chairman C.J. O'Rourke has stepped down, and the town has appointed Peter Stuto to take his place Thursday, Jan. 6.

Although his tenure is up this year, O'Rourke said he asked to not be reappointed because of problems he's had with the department's lack of development in the town, and issues with Planning Department Director Joe LaCivita.

I think it's quite apparent that if you look at the Town of Colonie, just 12 to 15 miles away there is the largest construction project in the world under way, said O'Rourke, describing the GlobalFoundries Semiconductor Chip Fabrication Plant in Malta. "There's only been one application that's come across the planning department's desk since December. One person. That tells a big story about developers and the town."

O'Rourke said it was also a business decision as he owns and operates a construction company and said that he wasn't willing to put the amount of time required to chair the board when it wasn't being run properly.

"I worked very hard to try and make changes within the town in terms of business and planning," he said. "I just felt my efforts weren't fully successful."

A recent incident occurred at a Dec. 20th planning board meeting, where his unrest with the planning department and LaCivita spilled out into a public forum.

The issue was over the Van Buren Subdivision on Turner Lane where members of the project were seeking for final site plan approval. O'Rourke said that the agenda item was not ready to be presented because there had not been a public hearing called and ended up tabling it to Jan. 11.

"We couldn't have action, there couldn't be any," he said, adding that an agenda change was requested. "The board didn't need an update, they were looking for final approval and it was evident someone was telling the truth. Either the developer or the planning department, someone made an error."

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