After having attended a hundred or more planning board meetings
in three different municipalities over the past two decades,
I feel that I have enough experience to comment on how welcome
members of the public are to comment on planning board actions
that impact the quality of their lives.
In the towns of Guilderland and Colonie, the Planning Board
meetings are held in the evenings, beginning around 7:00 pm.
At most of the meetings that I have attended, there were always
members of the public, and often a dozen or more people attended.
In Albany, the Planning Board meetings are held on Thursday
mornings at 9:00. For the past few Albany Planning Board meetings
I have attended, I have often been the only member of the public
in attendance. Needless to say, having planning board meetings
in the evenings allows many more people to attend.
For both the Towns of Guilderland (http://www.guilderland.org/Calendar_page.htm)
and Colonie (http://www.colonie.org/meeting.html),
the agenda for the meetings are available on the web. Not only
does Albany not have the agenda on the web, its web site (http://www.albanyny.
org/calendar.htm) only lists the Planning Board meetings
for the year 2000, which is not very helpful this year.
Much of what is said at the Towns of Guilderland and Colonie
planning board meetings can be heard by members of the public.
Nothing that the chairman of the planning board in Albany says
can be heard, and as he is the person doing most of the talking,
this is extremely frustrating.
Members of the public are allowed to comment on any agenda
item in Guilderland in Colonie, whether or not a public hearing
on that item is being held. In Albany, members of the public
may only speak if a public hearing is scheduled.
The Albany City Planning Board is in the dark ages. At a time
when revitalization of the city is essential for its survival,
the public is essentially shut out of the planning process by
the City’s practices of holding meetings during the day, ensuring
that the public cannot hear or see any of the actions, and of
the Planning Board not taking public comment except at public
The Guilderland and Colonie Planning Boards are not perfect
models, but the City would do well to change the time the Planning
Board meets and change its rules and setup to encourage the
public to participate.
Printed in the October/November, 2001 Newsletter