When Mayor-elect Josh Cohn and the new City Council members takes office New Year’s Day, they will face several pressing land-use issues: DPW and the Playing Fields, the Master Plan, and appointments to Planning Commission and Zoning. In a recent interview with The Rye Record, Cohn shared some of his views.
“I do not think the decision-making process regarding moving or renovating DPW has been a healthy one,” said Cohn. “It should not have been up to the Recreation Commission to approve a consultant’s proposal regarding DPW, one that has major planning implications.” [On ---, the Rye Rec Commission recommended for Council approval a $20-26 million plan to renovating DPW at Disbrow Park, moving access roads, and adding new tennis courts.]
“I do believe that Rye Rec’s focus should be on recreation, fields and field safety, and I looks forward to hearing their view on the needs of the recreational and athletic community.”
The Master Plan
One of the major initiatives of Mayor Sack and the Council last year was to revise the 1986 Master Plan. A consultant, BFJ Planning, was hired, a Master Plan Task Force was appointed, and a timeline set to approve a new plan by May 2018.
“I am very worried that the process is much too fast; it does not allow enough time for thoughtful input,” said Cohn. The Mayor-elect noted that the previous Master Plan took several years to develop. He hopes to broaden the membership of the task force to include those with expertise in city planning. Cohn emphasized the need for further time and study so that the Plan didn’t inadvertently contradict zoning regulations.
Appointments to Planning and Zoning
On January 1, 2018, the terms of six members of the Board of Appeals and Planning Commission will expire. All will have served over a decade, and several between 15 and 20 years.
Since the election, Cohn said he had talking to both members of the public, who deal with Rye’s land-use boards and commissions, as well as the sitting members, as to how they have functioned.
“I’m concerned there is a public perception that these boards are looked on as clubs or closed shops,” says Cohn. The Mayor-elect plans to review the performance of these bodies as he considers new appointments.
Would he consider enforcing or establishing term limits for Rye’s boards and commissions?
“Having spoken to members of other communities about land-use boards, I find there is a value in experience gained, including gaining a tolerance for the procedures, lengthy at times,’ Cohn remarked. “I think appointments should be judged individually on the merits, rather than a blanket tenure policy.”