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Elizabethtown officials to address illegal ZBA

ELIZABETHTOWN Noel H. Merrihew III is currently in violation of state municipal law by serving both as the town supervisor and as chairman of the zoning board of appeals. At the same time, the remainder of the Elizabethtown town board is also in violation because they, too, are listed as members of the zoning board of appeals (ZBA). According to the New York State Division of Local Government, a town board member cannot legally serve on the ZBA. Merrihew said the appointments were only done on paper, until the town was able to find individuals to serve on the board. We had to fill in the blank, to fill in the ZBA, said Merrihew. We don't have a zoning board of appeals, but we hope to make that appointment at the next board meeting. The town board is scheduled to meet Thursday, Feb. 21. Merrihew said the town has had difficulty filling the zoning board of appeals and planning board for more than six years since there have not been enough volunteers. More than three or four times a year, we put out a request for different volunteers. There has been not the necessary number to step forward to agree to serve, said Merrihew. The lack of zoning board of appeals was in the forefront of a debate in September 2007, when a variance was granted by the ZBA. The ZBA contained members who were unaware of their appointments, and didnt have a quorum to meet. Community interest has been roused since then. Merrihew said the town board had received eight applications to serve on the zoning and planning boards. Planning board chairman Gerald Allwell agreed theres been problems with membership for the last several years. We had a problem with not having enough members. If citizens don't participate, it doesn't make any sense to have meetings with two people, said Allwell. He said he holds hope that the the boards will be filled during the Feb. 21 meeting. For the past several months, the board has been updating the towns planning laws. We've been busy revising the local rules and laws for the last several months, and it's been turned into the town board for their review, said Allwell.

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