Plandome Heights postpones discussion on eliminating Planning Board

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Plandome Heights postpones discussion on eliminating Planning Board
The Plandome Heights Board of Trustees held its monthly meeting Tuesday in the village hall. (Photo by Teri West)

The Plandome Heights Board of Trustees decided to postpone discussion about potentially eliminating the village’s Planning Board in an executive session immediately following a public meeting in which the board seemed eager to begin such talks.

In the public meeting on Monday night, Mayor Kenneth Riscica listed hassles that would be avoidable if the Board of Trustees took over the Planning Board’s functions, including double fee approvals and training.

Then, in an email Tuesday, Riscica said that the board discussed the issue with legal counsel in executive session, and the action is no longer on the board’s agenda. The decision came because the board does not view the issue as urgent and it would increase the trustees’ workload, he said.

The Planning Board consists of seven volunteers who meet infrequently to address issues of land use, such as subdivision applications. Decades pass between subdivision applications, Riscica said in the public meeting.

The village trustees are also volunteers. About 10 percent of Plandome Heights residents volunteer for the village, Riscica wrote in an email.

The Board of Trustees is already responsible for giving final approval to certain fees related to subdivision applications after the Planning Board approves them. Merging the boards would make the process more efficient because the Board of Trustees could approve such fees in a single step, Riscica said at the public meeting.

Another issue is the burden placed on the village attorney to train Planning Board volunteers. It is becoming harder to find people willing to volunteer for the board, Riscica said, and when they do volunteer, members turn to village Attorney Christopher Prior to teach them the ropes.

Though taking on the full responsibilities of the Planning Board would lend extra work to the Board of Trustees, a lot of it already falls into the trustees’ laps, Riscica said in the public meeting.

“They handle what is in our village serious matters with serious consequences that can’t escape [the Board of Trustees]; our village is too small,” Riscica said.

Some local villages, such as Munsey Park, have already officially transferred the planning board’s responsibilities to trustees, he said.

The board also discussed Plandome Road, which Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town will no longer plow in Plandome Heights.

“Since the road is owned by Nassau County and Nassau County doesn’t plow any roads near us, I have concerns about what that decision means,” Riscica said.

He said the village sent a letter to Bosworth expressing concern about the decision and hoping to discuss it with her. Bosworth has not yet responded.

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