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Future of Lisbon Planning Board uncertain

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LISBON – The Town Council voted to table discussion regarding limiting the power of the Planning Board due to the absence of Code Enforcement Officer Christopher Sherwin at Wednesday’s meeting.

He had been asked at last month’s meeting to compile a proposal to limit the mandate of the Planning Board by taking away its review of residential building permits and removing dimensional requirements for site plan applications.

Planning Board Secretary Patrick M. Madlin, addressing the Town Council, said he felt the Town Council was unfairly targeting the Planning Board.

Town Supervisor James W. Armstrong said he feels like the Planning Board is doing its job by ensuring potentially uninformed property buyers are aware of their purchases.

“The Planning Board protects these people,” he said, adding later that “the Town Board does not have any animosity towards the Planning Board.”

Council member and Planning Board liaison Susan M. Duffy said she doesn’t think the town should be governing “common sense.” She believes many of the duties currently handled by the Planning Board would be better off in the hands of the Code Enforcement Officer.

Mr. Madlin believes Ms. Duffy has it out for the Planning Board after they initially denied her site plan for a gas dock along the St. Lawrence River. The gas dock was finally approved after she hired an attorney.

Ms. Duffy agreed that was the impetus for her to run for the Town Council. Ms. Duffy owns the Off the Hook Bed and Breakfast and sells gasoline on the river.

“After one of the votes [rejecting her site plan] she told me that she would not forget that I did not vote in favor of the gas dock. She has used her position on the Town Board to pursue a personal vendetta against the Planning Board and to promote her own interests,” said Mr. Madlin. “Most disturbingly, was the swift action of this board to condemn the Planning Board based on the beliefs of Ms. Duffy.”

Mr. Madlin also questioned public statements made by Ms. Duffy that alleged cronyism on the Planning Board.

In September, Ms. Duffy said Mr. Madlin was able to build a new house even though his property is less than the required one acre. Town law stipulates that property must be at least one acre before new building may commence.

“Ms. Duffy unfortunately is ignorant of the fact that lots that existed prior to 1989 are grandfathered in. We did not build on the same footprint, nor were we required too,” said Mr. Madlin.

Ms. Duffy had raised concerns over the building taking place at Mr. Madlin’s property after a site plan application submitted by Ronald L. Bush was tabled. Mr. Bush’s property had been empty for roughly six years and was technically too small to build a mobile home on, as he intended.

In the end, the Planning Board did not grant Mr. Bush a variance, but tabled the application meaning that it was automatically approved after a period of 62 days. That time has nearly elapsed.

Mr. Madlin called on Ms. Duffy to be removed as liaison to the Planning Board. “She has proven to be a saboteur and is nothing more than a petty distraction to the work completed by the Planning Board.”

Mr. Madlin said that Planning Board member Glenn R. Harris has resigned following the spat between the Town Council and the Planning Board. That position will need to be filled by a Town Council appointment.

Mr. Madlin also said he is unsure of his future on the board.

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