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Opinion

I attended the Port North Planning Board meeting regarding the preliminary subdivision of the 41 acres, now called Mill Pond Acres. Janet Orloff and I were the only Port North trustees present. My purpose for attending the meeting was two fold. First, I wanted to stay informed about the development of this property, not only for myself, but also as a representative of the village. Secondly, it was to communicate to the board how important I, and the village residents, viewed their responsibility. As you may recall, this very property was a fiscal point of the recent trustee elections, which Janet and I won. It split the village, with a majority of voters seemingly against the scope of this proposed senior housing development.

The meeting itself was quite informative, bringing up such issues as water usage, parking availability, landscaping, water run-off, and traffic concerns as well as giving an overview of the various models of housing and their amenities. After the developer and their representatives spoke, and the planning board questioned various nuances of the proposal, it was time for the public to speak. I stood before the chairman and members of the board to explain to them what an arduous and vital task was laid before them. I started to bring to their attention how I was elected, with support of a majority of residents that were opposed to this project. Before I could get into detail, one member of the board, Stanley Ronell, abruptly cut me off. I was surprised that Mr. Ronell, of all people, would not give an elected village trustee a little latitude to speak on behalf of the village. I was aware that the forum called for technical questions to be asked of the board and the developer. That aside, it struck me as profound that this same individual who, on numerous occasions at village open meetings, was so outspoken in favor of this project, and has, at the same time, been barraging the village board with numerous news articles on retirement that support this type of housing community, would not allow me to speak. That was uncalled for and unnecessary.

My message to the planning board was simple. I wished I had the opportunity to be integrally involved in the decision to rezone this property and how it would be developed. However, by the past board of trustees voting to rezone weeks before I was elected, they effectively took me out of the loop. I wanted to remind the planning board of how important this issue was to the village residents that were concerned and opposed to this project. There are still serious concerns about water run-off, potentially into Mill Pond, brought up by the hired village engineers; the fire department and the Fire Medic Department voiced their concerns about the overtaking of their services. These still need to be addressed. A fellow planning board member, Irwin Kellner, took offense to some of my comments, misconstruing my concerns as an attack on the integrity of the board. For that I apologize. That was not my intent. In fact, it was to the contrary. I simply wanted to tell the board how important it was to look at the big picture, don't lose sight of the issues that concern many in our community, namely traffic, water usage and drainage, the overtaxing of our utilities and services, and the delicate balance of residential, industrial, and open space.

The future of our village, and the entire Port Washington community, will be affected by the actions of the planning board and the developer of this project. I am confident that the board will do the job they were appointed to do and do it with efficiency, accuracy, and professionalism. I only hope and pray that, years from now, we don't discover that my concerns, and the concerns of many village residents, don't become a reality.

Bob Weitzner

Trustee, Port Washington North


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