Ted Miner Thoughts on Q&A Meetings

Thoughts from Ted Miner. An important read, as Ted has attended every single Q&A and Town Board meeting since our stampede into the Town Hall on June 20th to voice our objection to the proposed zoning laws.

**** 08/10/19 ****
It has been a bit since I have commented on Chatham’s zoning proposition issue. I thought to write this in satire, but, having second thoughts……..

The process has been grinding along with all indications openness and clarity were to be hallmarks of the effort at the finale. That may yet be, but recent events are throwing roadblocks, making this possibility a challenge.

June 20th, 2019 was a pivotal day for our town. Regardless, the purported agenda, or lack of, our town, (notice please I did not say any group exclusively), learned we have a communication problem. A tipping point was achieved. Through the efforts of a very few, in a very short amount of time, a wave of town residents showed to voice an opinion. Right/wrong/yes/no, it does not matter the thought. The raw fact they all felt necessary to break their habits to come was lesson enough.

Our town needs better communication devices. Happily the board has come to recognize this fact and has challenged for solution(s). Unhappily, the old sentiment, “they all know when we meet”, will never carry the day again. While the legality of the thought is fine, the practice has dire consequences, as evidenced that evening.

The movement to a Zoning Proposition based on a minimum ten year old Comprehensive Plan concerns me. Even within the document, (page 6), it specifically calls for 5-7 year review. Our board recognizes the short coming while considering ongoing committees of Comprehensive Plan and Zoning review. The Plan was wrote at approximately the same time Chatham schools submitted a 47 million dollar bond proposal for school upgrades, (for multiple of reasons). It failed. Dramatically. I suggest for the same shortcomings the Plan suffers. If reviewed the past couple years those that rose to defeat the 47M Bond would contribute and the Plan would include low-income housing concerns as well. Etc.

The FaceBook page “Chatham United for Common Sense Zoning” has been attacked with some vicious vitriol. Some of which, wisely, has been removed. While the sentiments have been heartfelt, the lowering to personal attacks has been demoralizing. I have to say that the tone was achieved first by “the opposition.” You may disagree. My point made.

Letters have appeared in the local paper(s). Again, the lowering to personal attacks have not carried the factual arguments, nor made positions more attractive. The skirting of issues to twist to advantage insults me. I would hope it insults you. BTW – I don’t care the partnership status, or lack thereof, of ANY participant.

Nor do I care as to anybody’s longevity of Chatham occupation. A day, month, year, decade, or generations; we are all in this together having made the financial and emotional commitments to reside in our town.

Finally, regarding the letters’ “late to the party” comments…….. How about, “Welcome. Glad to have you. Sit down, may I get you some coffee? Do you have any questions? Anything to add?” What a novel idea. I fully appreciate the extended effort of those involved “from the beginning.” But that is not a card carrying right to exclude or demean another. Conversely, respect must be accorded knowledge. Especially when given openly and generously.

“Truth Matters.” Welcome to the party. I wish I had known of your FaceBook presence earlier. In an effort to promote all views to come to common ground I would encourage the review of their information. I hope “Truth Matters” takes a lead from local schooling efforts and publishes thoughts from all sides. As we all know, “truth” is most of the time dictated by the victor, a position I would hope we all may lay claim.

The actions of the Aug. 8th board meeting concern me. After suggesting at the Q&A’s “Short Term Rental concerns be tabled for a more detailed review of the balance of the proposition”, the board dramatically revised the STR “domicile” definition. All previous conversation had been as to the longevity of owner’s stay at site factoring rental abilities. Then, “whatever is identified on tax returns” became the norm. I suggest the, (category 2,3,4), STR people may feel short changed. I would. The balance of the board meeting was then kindly opened up to the floor for public dialog. Certainly needed as subjects came up for decision that still had not been fully reviewed in the Q&A’s. I applaud the board for the “meet in the middle” attitude. I expect the next Q&A meeting to be along the same lines. Finally, a Q&A is scheduled for Aug. 20th from 5-7:00. I hope it is enough time to satisfy an earlier board comment, “We will continue to have these Q&A’s until there are no more questions”. If not, I expect to sit through more.

I recognize “politics is a blood sport,” yet I do not condone the mirroring of state and federal representatives’ actions locally. This is not about party affiliation or position. Local politics is about local people, neighbors all, who have to live together at the end. Some of us even to the end.

Thank you for taking the time. Back to work.

**** 08/13/19. Update ****
10 hours since the gavel dropped on the best Chatham Board experience I have ever sat through. Not because anybody “won”…. or lost. Because of the openness and concise and concerned participation of all. This was town government at its best.

Congratulations to the Chatham Town Board and I would add the same to Chatham United and Truth Matters. And to all the neighbors who have given effort towards an end we all may live.

Next Q&A. 08/20/19. 5-7 @ the town hall.
“These will stop when the people don’t show and the questions are exhausted.”

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