Montgomery County

Glen Planning Board operates with all new members

Five members quit after Lystek controversy
The Lystek biomass processing plant in Fairfield, Calif.
The Lystek biomass processing plant in Fairfield, Calif.

After two months of tumult that saw five resignations and six newly appointed members, the town Planning Board has been reconstituted into a functioning board.

Five new members were appointed by the Town Board on April 19: Patrick M. Rose, Cheryl Huxhold, Sandra Hemstreet, Timothy S. McMurray and Timothy H. Reilly.

Reilly has been named the new Planning Board chairman.

The new members replace former longtime Planning Board Chairman Frank Casler and members Donna Covert, Wanda Burch, Ray Dykeman and Rodney Kowalczyk, who quit shortly before the new members were put in place.

The resignations of the previous board members began shortly after the controversial appointment of Rosalie Farina. Farina had been an outspoken critic of a proposal from Canadian company Lystek International to build a human waste biosolids fertilizer plant in the Glen Canal View Business Park. Farina also lives near the location of the business park.

Town Board member Russel Kelly Jr. said the Town Board did not anticipate a mass exodus of the members of the Planning Board after Farina’s appointment.

“There were no dissenting votes, but we were kind of caught as a Town Board in a spot where, if we turned down a person who was interested, you could say that we weren’t being responsible in filling the board, so I guess at that point we didn’t feel like it was going to cause that much turmoil,” he said. “[Farina] had been very vocal and everything, and we thought that she definitely had the credentials, and what not, that would support her being on there. We just did not realize the personality clash and the differences in opinion would manifest itself that way with the other board members.”

Casler, in a letter written to the Town Board, warned against the appointment of Farina, stating he felt her having made statements against the Lystek project would damage the integrity of the board. Casler resigned shortly after Farina was appointed, stating that he felt if the town allows the Lystek project to fail, it might as well turn the Glen Canal View Business Park into a “skateboard park or a bird sanctuary” because future businesses will now be hesitant to locate there.

The Planning Board with Farina in place moved to vote down the Lystek project on March 15, although Lystek has disputed the vote, arguing they did not have a complete application before the board at that time. After that vote, Covert, Burch, Dykeman and finally Kawalczyk all quit, leaving Farina the lone member before the new appointees were put in place.

Farina declined a request for comment.

Opposition to the Lystek project has manifested itself in the form of a group known by the acronym CALL, which stands for Citizens Against Local Landfills. Kelly said the opposition to Lystek was a major factor in the turnover of the Planning Board’s membership.

“We had a very good, very veteran board, and they took a lot of abuse from the public,” he said. “These are volunteer positions and they took a lot of abuse from the public for doing their job.”

Opponents to the Lystek project, in a satirical Facebook page called “Sewage Sludge Satire,” have posted political cartoons depicting Glen Supervisor John Thomas with a demon labeled “sewer sludge” on his shoulder, manipulating Casler as a stringed marionette.

Thomas did not return phone calls seeking comments.

CALL has filed a lawsuit against the town of Glen, alleging the Town Board did not follow the proper procedure when it passed a local law in December that expanded the town’s zoning law to allow 33 additional uses for the Glen Canal View Business Park. The law change in December opened the door for Lystek’s attempt to build in the park.

Kelly said he isn’t certain whether the Town Board will revisit the zoning changes, but he defended the decision to change the law in December.

“The basic premise was that the changes that were made were for 33 uses that could happen anywhere in the town of Glen, any acreage zoned residential or agricultural, a very large percentage of the town, but was not allowed in that business park, which made absolutely no sense,” he said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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