The Woodstock Planning Board could change from seven members to five if the town follows a recommendation from the Ulster County Planning Board, a move that might make it easier to meet quorum.
“Because of COVID and because of our hybrid situation and meeting quorums it seems like a reasonable thing for us to do, to go down to five board members,” Planning Board Chair Peter Cross said at the November 17 meeting.
Throughout the pandemic, board members participated in meetings via videoconference from home, but legislation has changed and municipal boards must have a majority of members meet in-person while allowing the public to participate remotely, via what are called hybrid meetings.
Cross said the change can only be made when two seats become vacant because nobody can be removed from the board.
Co-chair Stuart Lipkind’s term expires at the end of the year and he has chosen not to seek reappointment. James Conrad has considered stepping down, though his term expires at the end of 2027.
“My issue is reliability,” said Planning Secretary Melissa Gray, who has to make sure enough people are available for meetings. If the board goes down to five members, only three are needed for a quorum. Now, four are needed.
“We’ve always had an issue with filling seven slots, so actually I think going to five makes a lot of sense,” Planning Board member John LaValle said.
“I spent the past week on the phone with Association of Towns and the lawyer and this had come up,” Gray said. “The three of us have really spent a great deal of time on this seeing pros and cons and it was no surprise for the Association of Towns. I feel like other places are doing this and it makes sense.”
The Planning Board voted to make a recommendation to the Town Board, which must enact a local law to make the change.