Motion to rescind planning board appointment stays in committee

Is there or is there not a residency requirement for appointees to county government boards?

The Montgomery County Legislature’s Education and Government Committee had on its agenda Tuesday night a motion to rescind an earlier resolution appointing Palatine Town Supervisor Sara Niccoli to the county planning board representing Legislative District 3. Niccoli currently resides in District 2.

The resolution failed by a 1-1 vote. District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz, chairman of the committee, voted in favor of rescinding the original resolution, but District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond voted no. The third member of the committee, District 6 Legislator John M. Duchessi, was absent.

Since Tuesday’s session was a committee meeting, the purpose of voting on the resolution was to determine whether or not to bring it before the full board. Two positive votes would have forwarded the measure to the full board, but the 1-1 tally means it stays in committee.

Dimond said the law governing how Planning Board members are appointed is poorly written and does not have a residency requirement in it.

“There was never any discussion of residency,” Dimond said. “Each legislator is allowed to make one appointment. No other planning board has a residency requirement.”

Dimond said the law should be rewritten.

“The clarification should reflect the fact that each legislator gets an appointment [to the county Planning Board],” he said. Having a residency requirement “not only puts the [county] Planning Board in reverse, but puts the momentum of this Legislature in reverse.”

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler, who is not a member of the Education and Government Committee but attended the meeting, said she thought the wrangling over appointments was political.

“We are showing 1,000 percent that this is a political position,” she said.

Dimond said after the meeting that the Board of Supervisors–the former governing body of the county until the creation of the County Legislature two years ago–often injected politics into governmental matters. Wheeler and District 2 Legislator Thomas L. Quackenbush are the only former supervisors currently serving as county legislators.

Dimond also said he thought Niccoli would have been a productive member of the county Planning Board.

“The main crux of government today is consolidation, and that’s what [Niccoli] wants,” he said.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included a sentence stating that Legislature Chairman Martin Kelly, if present, could have cast a deciding vote. Although the chairman is an ex-officio member of every committee, he is a non-voting member. 

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.