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Public Hearing Pulls Support for Regional Planning Board

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – There was no opposition at a public hearing last week to a proposed regional planning board for Erie County. Noticeably absent were any developers who are against the plan. The County Executive said most of them stand with him in opposition.

About twenty people offered testimony at the hearing in support of the planning board that would coordinate development throughout the county. The town Supervisor of Brant said he was once opposed but now sees the wisdom of such a board. Advocates say all that is evidence that the County Executive is on the fringe of the issue. Collins said they are all putting support in something that is an illusion.

"This is people tilting at windmills, wishing upon a star, a single planning board that would make decisions on a regional basis," said Collins. "Well, sure, I would support that but that's not what this is."

He added that New York is a home-rule state and that under its constitution each of the 25 towns has its own planning board. Collins said it is wishful thinking to believe those boards would go away once a regional board was in place.

Collins said a regional planning board would force developers to get approval from two planning bodies, further complicating an already rigorous, time consuming practice. That is why Collins said developers are against a regional planning board.

Yet, none of those developers showed or sent representatives to last week's public hearing that was held to get the community's input on the proposal.

Amherst Developer Paul Ciminelli was an early supporter, who continues to publicly back the legislation. He said he shares some of the county executive's concerns. But Ciminelli said a regional planning board could be beneficial if properly structured and did not become another place for political patronage.

But it would have to first survive the political process.

Lawmakers said they have the support needed to overwhelmingly pass the law. But it is less clear if they could over-ride an almost certain veto by the county executive.

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