Getting residents to sit on the various volunteer municipal boards in the Town of New Paltz can be a challenge, but counter intuitively the most time-intensive of these roles is apparently generating above-average interest. Members of the Town’s Planning Board are appointed for seven-year terms, during which they are expected to review applications ahead of twice-monthly meetings that usually run two to three hours, as well as complete at least four hours of training a year. The term rotation ensures that one appointment will be considered each year, but there are also periodic mid-term replacements, as not everyone sticks it out for the full seven years.
“Several” people have expressed interest in being appointed to the seat that’s now open, according to Supervisor Neil Bettez; the interested parties include Amy Cohen, the individual whose first term was completed as of the end of 2021.
Interest in Planning Board membership tends to rise and fall with the profile of projects being considered. As the term is longer than that of the elected officials making the appointment, reappointing incumbents is not a foregone conclusion. Cohen was named to replace Tim Rogers, who was at the time outspoken about a number of planning issues, including the earliest version of the Trans-Hudson project, as well as an idea briefly floated about a sewage treatment plant next to the high school.
Rather than making an appointment on the fly, council members agreed to advertise the opening and make a decision as soon as the January 20 meeting. Cohen would remain a voting Planning Board member unless and until being replaced, the supervisor confirmed. Consistent with town policy, Planning Board chair Adele Ruger and other members will be invited to provide input, but state law requires that only the elected officials vote on who fills the seat for the next seven years.