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Another resignation, two important town committees in jeopardy

The Town Board is looking into possible code changes that, if adopted, would result in language dealing with the establishment of committees, memberships, mandates and agendas.

And the resignations that rocked Town Hall last week continued with the announcement that real estate professional Peter McCracken has resigned as a member of the Community Housing Board — which is charged with looking into affordable housing. That leaves only two members on the Housing Board.

What sparked the initiatves to change the code at Tuesday’s work session was the latest controversy over the Comprehensive Plan group and issues with the Housing Board. Comprehensive Plan project manager Edward Hindin resigned last week, followed by Councilman Mike Bebon’s resignation from the Town Board.

Mr. Siller Tuesday called for abolishing the Housing Board. Others thought it would be an error to eliminate it but agreed efforts to date haven’t yet created affordable rentals or sale houses and thought reconstituting the CHB would make sense eventually.

At least for the moment, the Town Board will take over the work of the Housing Board to redefine its role. Mr. Siller had previously said the Housing Board was getting too involved in the nuts and bolts of trying to create affordable housing, when its charge required it to create lists of those seeking affordable rentals or property purchases.

The Town Board reconfirmed its plan to delay for 30 to 60 days any activities of the Comprehensive Plan group while it considers how to move forward.

There will be further discussion of possible Town Code changes relating to boards and committees. For now the proposed changes are:

• Anyone appointed to a committee has no guarantee of reappointment and could be removed if that person is failing to add constructively to the aims of the committee

• If a committee member wants to speak out about an issue before another board or committee, he or she can do so as an individual at a public meeting of the other committee

• Inclusion of a clear statement that no committee would have independent authority, serving only to advise the Town Board that would make final decisions, except in the cases of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals

• The scope of what a committee could discuss would be limited to its specific charge unless the Town Board sought additional information for any reason

• Agendas would be created by committee chairs with input from Town Board liaisons and a member can request an addition within the committee’s realm 24 hours in advance of a meeting

• Appointments to committees would be based to the extent possible on specific knowledge of the subject with which the committee deals while assuring there’s no conflict of interest because of a personal agenda a potential member might have.

Mr. Bebon had been serving as chairman of the Community Housing Board, but new member Bob Kohn had found the Town Code prohibited his serving as either a member or chairman of that particular committee as well as prohibiting any Town Board member from serving on either the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals. He then called for Mr. Bebon’s resignation from the Town Board.

Mr. Siller has questioned Mr. Kohn’s allegiance to the concept of affordable housing based on a statement Mr. Kohn had made at a Comprehensive Plan forum. Mr. Kohn said the statement was taken out of context, and was meant to explain efforts other East End communities were doing to provide affordables, which might relieve the Island of the need.