Joann Piccozzi, the outspoken and independent long-time chair of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, lost her seat on the panel last week when the Town Board named Phillip DiOrio to take her place and tapped board member Doug Matz to serve as chair.
The Town Board voted unanimously and without discussion to make the changes at its meeting on Friday, August 19. Mr. DiOrio’s appointment was made to fill a vacancy created when the town let Ms. Piccozzi’s term expire on July 8.
The board advertised for candidates and interviewed them in closed sessions. Ms. Piccozzi was among the applicants.
Just before the vote to tap Mr. DiOrio, Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty praised Ms. Piccozzi. “I just spoke to Joann Piccozzi a few minutes ago,” he said. Ms. Piccozzi “served us with great distinction for many years” but as a result of some “lifestyle changes,” he said, “we are quite regretfully and with tremendous gratitude” saying goodbye. “Thanks Joann from all of us; you did a great job,” he added, and the audience gave Ms. Piccozzi a round of applause.
Zoning Board member Patricia Shillingburg confronted Ms. Piccozzi at the Zoning Board’s Wednesday, June 22 meeting for what she called Ms. Piccozzi’s absences from board meetings.
The town’s attendance record for the board shows only one absence in 2011; one unexcused absence and two excused absences in 2010; one unexcused and one excused absence in 2009; and two unexcused and two excused absences in 2008. The board normally meets twice a month. Records for earlier years were not requested.
Ms. Piccozzi was first appointed to the board in January 2001, according to the town clerk’s record.
HEARING ON REFERENDUM
As expected, the board set a public hearing for its September 9 meeting on a proposed local law that would trigger a referendum on reducing the term for town council persons elected after 2011 from four to two years, as requested in a petition submitted earlier this month by resident Richard Kelly. Several board members have commented at earlier meetings they were in favor of allowing the public to vote on the question even though they did not necessarily favor a reduction in council terms.
Also on Friday, the board reduced the size of the Conservation Advisory Council from nine to seven members, finding that seven was a “sufficient” number for the board to operate efficiently. There was no discussion of the decision, which had not come up at work sessions for discussion either.
CAC Chair Ed Bausman said in a phone interview on Monday that a nine-member board was unwieldy because it often could not reach a consensus. Its membership had been expanded over the years, he said, because the Town Board had added members to help assure there would be a quorum for decisions.
The reduction was made effective as of August 19. Mr. Bausman said Tullia Limarzi was one person who would not be returning to the board; he said he wasn’t sure who the other person was.
The Town Board reappointed three CAC members on Friday night to two-year terms ending in September 2013: Jay Card Jr., Paulette Van Vranken and Mary H. Shaw. Also, the board reappointed Joseph Messing to the Board of Assessment Review.