Weitz considering lawsuit after planning board vote

A Montgomery County legislator had strong words for two of his colleagues for their votes Tuesday on a resolution rescinding an appointment to the county planning board.

District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz, chairman of the legislature’s Education and Government Committee, said he was disappointed in District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek and District 9 Legislator Robert Purtell.

A resolution rescinding the appointment of Palatine Town Supervisor Sara Niccoli to the planning board failed at last week’s meeting of Weitz’s committee. Weitz voted then to support rescinding the appointment, which he said was illegal because Niccoli does not live in District 3.

District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond, who proposed Niccoli’s appointment, voted against rescinding the resolution, saying the legislation creating the county planning board does not include a residency requirement.

The third member of the committee, District 6 Legislator John M. Duchessi, was absent, so the resolution died in committee due to the 1-1 vote.

But at this Tuesday’s meeting of the full Legislature, the motion to rescind the appointment failed by a 4-3 vote; Dimond and Duchessi were absent, and the resolution needed five votes to pass.

Bieniek and Purtell voted against the resolution to rescind Niccoli’s appointment, saying they did so out of respect for Dimond, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting of the full Legislature. District 8 Legislator Joseph M. Isabel and Legislature Chairman Martin Kelly also voted against rescinding the resolution.

District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said Dimond’s absence shouldn’t affect anyone’s vote.

“My thought to any legislators who think they are doing a disservice to Roy because he’s not here are that he’s well aware of what’s going on,” Quackenbush said.

A resolution to reconsider, which would have required a two-thirds majority to pass, fell short; Bieniek and Purtell voted against it.

After the meeting, Weitz was clearly upset.

“Residents of [Legislative] District 9 had a legislator who resigned,” he said, referring to Alexander Kuchis, who left the Legislature due to a change in employment and was replaced by Purtell. “The interim legislator who filled this seat clearly stated by his action that he has no respect for the law.”

Weitz said the same criticism applied to Bieniek, and suggested that voters should remember that when both are up for re-election. Purtell must run this year and Bieniek next year.

Weitz also suggested that the county ethics board should investigate Purtell and Bieniek.

“We’re looking into filing an Article 78 proceeding, effectively suing ourselves,” Weitz said. “I don’t think you would find a bigger proponent of planning in this county [than myself], but there’s no point in this [county planning] board meeting as long as it’s illegally constituted.”

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.