Village of Homer to consider unifying zoning, planning board meetings

Village of Homer. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Village of Homer Board of Trustees officials discussed combining their planning board and zoning board of appeals (ZBA) into one meeting, citing concerns regarding inconsistent scheduling and the lack of a consistent quorum.

Village officials presented arguments for and against moving toward the unification of both boards, but ultimately decided they wanted to hear from officials and advisors in the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM).

Mayor Hal McCabe believes the zoning and planning boards should be combined into one.

“I am a strong proponent of this, especially given the amount of time, effort and stress of trying to get these meetings together and have a quorum,” he said. “Even with alternate (board members), we often have to move or cancel meetings because we don’t have enough people to form a quorum especially in the summertime when people are taking a vacation.”

According to the New York Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services, a quorum for both boards signifies the attendance of a majority of the full membership without vacancies.

McCabe noted that stitching both boards together could be a temporary measure while village attorney Dante Armideo drafts a law for the town that would ensure the village can appoint more alternates to both boards.

“That increases our chances in trying to bring these meetings together,” McCabe said.

Village deputy mayor Patrick Clune opposed combining both boards. Instead, he would like to have a wider bench of alternates to form a quorum even when several members of either board cannot make their respective meetings

“I think (the law being drafted by Armideo) would be a great start,” Clune said. “We are having difficulty getting members on these boards, but if we don’t get enough members, we may have no option but to go to a joint board.”

Armideo noted the ZBA helps appeal decisions made by the village’s code enforcement officer.

“ZBA isn’t hearing planning board appeals or decisions made by the planning board,” Armideo said, correcting misconceptions about the function of the ZBA. Clune said those misconceptions drove him to oppose the idea of a joint board

The discussion will resurface at a village meeting in the near future.