The Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Commission met this past Wednesday, June 27, to consider accepting the town’s application for a Special Exception for the expansion of the field space behind the Antolini School. The proposal includes expanding the existing field area to accommodate a Football playing field for the New Hartford Football and Cheer program, a regional Football program. It also includes the addition of dug outs for the softball field, a storage building, temporary lighting until permanent lighting can be installed, and bleachers; see our June 27 article for more details of the project and a downloadable copy of the site developement plan for the proposed expansion.
The application was presented to the Planning and Zoning members by Rista Malanca, the Zoning Officer. Ted Stoutenberg chaired the meeting in Jim Steadman’s absence, and alternate Peter Ventre was seated for Jim; Marty Post, the Democratic alternate who arrived a few minutes late to the meeting and who would have been able to voted at the meeting, was not seated.
The P&Z members discussed at length whether the proposed expansion needed a Special Exception, which requires a Public Hearing, or whether it only needed a site plan approval from them. The P&Z members appeared to vacillate between requiring a Special Exception and not. The Zoning Officer’s input was that since the uses were already there – “it’s really the same substance” – they could require only a site plan if they didn’t feel a Special Exception was needed.
Most of the P&Z members appeared uncomfortable at the thought of depriving the public of the opportunity to give their input, especially, as Commission member David Krimmel reminded everyone, there had been considerable opposition in the past from members of the public to proposals that would have expanded the use of the land at the town-owned Antolini property. Commission member Gil Pratt said that he was uncomfortable at the thought of depriving the public of the opportunity to give their input on the proposed expansion although he, personally, was inclined to think that the town owned the land and should be able to expand its use of the land if it wanted to. Ted Stoutenberg asked whether the project would need to be brought to the public at a town meeting to approve funding for it and the the Zoning Officer said that the funding had already been approved in the town budget; in actuality, the town budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, includes only $25,000 for the Antolini Field improvements. Dave Krimmel again voiced his concern at not requiring a Special Exception, this time asking: “What if the school needs that land for its own use? What is the Board of Ed’s input on this?” His question went unanswered.
In the end, David Krimmel seemed to sum up the feeling of the majority of the P&Z Commission members when he said: “… I would feel more comfortable with the Special Exception. If it turns out nobody shows up, it’s fine, it’s not a big deal, but at least people will have had an opportunity to speak their piece,” David said.
David Krimmel made a motion to accept the application for a Special Exception and to set a Public Hearing date. Gil Pratt seconded David’s motion and the motion was approved with David and Gil voting for it and Dan LaPlante voting against it. Peter Ventre was not able to vote because of minority representation rules, since only members of the Republican Party were seated at the meeting. A Public Hearing date was set for July 25.
Below is the video of the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting held this past Wednesday, June 27, at which the application for a Special Exception for the expansion of the Antolini field was accepted and a Public Hearing date set. The entire meeting lasted for only 23 to 24 minutes. Due to technical difficulties, our video does not include the first 2 top 3 minutes of the meeting. We apologize for not being able to make available a video of the entire meeting.