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MENTZ

Hearing set for possible removal of Mentz planning board members

Mentz 2-25-2020

Mentz Supervisor Richard Nielens Jr., left, speaks during a Mentz Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

PORT BYRON — A public hearing has been scheduled for the possible removal of one or more members of the Mentz planning board, pending legal review, following concerns on member behavior.

The resolution for the hearing came at a Mentz Town Board meeting Tuesday night. The issue stems from a planning board meeting earlier this month in which members were alleged to have mistreated members of the public and a town board member during discussion on a proposal for a transfer station after a previous proposal for it had been rejected by the town board last year.

Steven Morgan, owner of trash removal companies Morgan Rubbish Removal and Dependable Disposal, made a proposal to buy up to 20 acres at the defunct landfill on Berger Road to set up a transfer station. A transfer station is a facility where smaller trucks can transfer waste to bigger vehicles to be taken to a landfill. Morgan spoke about the proposal at an informational session before a town board meeting in November, in which board members and community members alike expressed concerns. The project was shut down at a board meeting in December

Morgan spoke about a new proposal at the Mentz planning board meeting earlier this month for a transfer station at the intersection of Lasher Road and Route 31. At Tuesday's town board meeting, some people explained their issues with Morgan's latest proposal and with how the planning board meeting went.

Mentz resident Donna Trumble, who had attended the planning board meeting, told the town board Tuesday night that she and other community members had concerns about the station, including possible environmental issues, smell and how property values would be affected.

"We just don't want it," Trumble said. "Put it in somebody else's backyard."

Trumble said planning board members told the public to be quiet, that they couldn't be at the meeting, which was open to the public, and were rude to town board member Barbara Clancy. Clancy verified those accusations after the meeting.

"They weren't happy that we were in here at this meeting," Trumble said.   

Town board member Matthew Poyneer said at Tuesday's meeting that as elected officials, the board can appoint and remove people from the planning board, "but it's certainly your meeting."

Jay Moose, the Mentz zoning and code enforcement officer, said a project such as the proposal would require a special use permit and anyone interested in that would have to first send an application to him. Moose said he didn't receive the proposal until after the planning board meeting,

After the public spoke at Tuesday's meeting, the town board went into executive session. After they came out, Supervisor Richard Nielens Jr. made a proposal for a public hearing, pending legal review, on the removal of a member or members of the planning board. The town board approved the resolution. Once the legal review is done, a date will be set.

After the meeting, Nielens cited issues such as insubordination and mistreating a town board member or members of the pubic as reasons for the hearing. He also said the planning board should have immediately told Morgan that they had to go to Moose first.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education and City Reporter

Hello, my name is Kelly Rocheleau, and I cover the education and city beats for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I've been writing for the paper since December 2016.

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