MOREAU — Supervisor Todd Kusnierz is defending his decision to replace political opponent Reed Antis with former Town Board member Alan Van Tassel on the town Planning Board.
Kusnierz received some criticism for the decision, with Antis and others saying it was a political attack.
So Kusnierz released two pages of Antis’ personnel file, saying he felt comfortable making it public since Antis is a public official. Under the state Freedom of Information Law, officials can choose to keep personnel records private and usually do.
The file includes a letter Kusnierz wrote Antis on April 1, telling him that he might be removed from his Planning Board position.
Kusnierz wrote that Antis had visited a construction site owned by Cerrone Construction and had identified what he thought could be zoning or approval violations.
“As I am sure you are aware, your position as a Planning Board member does not include code enforcement or inspection. It also does not permit you to go onto private property to discuss the project with any of the workers, or to provide your opinion regarding the validity of their work,” Kusnierz said.
Antis, who lives near the site, questioned whether houses were being built at the 40-foot setback after Cerrone mistakenly built one too close and had to get a zoning waiver after the fact. In one case, he and the owner of Cerrone Construction measured a building site together. On a second visit, regarding the same issue for another house, the owner said Antis was harassing him and Antis dropped the matter, he said.
“I acted as a concerned citizen,” he said. “I didn’t turn him in to the town. I called him. That’s as far as it went.”
Kusnierz said his position on the Planning Board made it appear that his visits were official ones.
In the letter, Kusnierz also told Antis he had received a written complaint about him from North Country Paws for Obedience. Owner Lora Bacharach said she felt Antis was accusing her of lying about how she runs her business.
During a Planning Board meeting in March, Antis questioned whether she was violating rules of a previous approval by becoming a doggie day care instead of just providing day care for dogs enrolled in her training program. The questions made it clear he did not believe her.
“We do not wish to cause any further issues and were hesitant to write this, but we felt some actions from this meeting were unprofessional, disrespectful and not necessary,” Bacharach wrote to Zoning Administrator Jim Martin.
Kusnierz wrote that after listening to the audio, he agreed with Bacharach. If such behavior continued, he said, he would remove Antis from the board.
After receiving the letter, Antis apologized at the beginning of the next Planning Board meeting.
“It’s been brought to my attention some of my actions at last month’s meeting were inappropriate,” he said. “I’ll take this time to apologize to those applicants and the board for my behavior.”
Antis is hoping to still have a role in town government. New Town Board member John Donohue is floating the idea of appointing Antis to the Zoning Board, which has vacancies. The board has difficulty getting a quorum for meetings, especially in the winter when one member is gone for three months.
“These are the boards you need to beef up now in preparation for development on Route 9,” Donohue said.
Donohue said he was aware of Kusnierz’s criticism of Antis but hoped Kusnierz would support the Zoning Board appointment. He plans to discuss it with him privately.
“There were some misunderstandings with him on the Planning Board, and if they wanted him off, fine, they had the votes,” Donohue said. “But here’s a man who volunteers. We don’t have them lined up out the door to volunteer with the town. He means well. He’s a good guy. He’s community-oriented.”
Donohue added that he did not vote on the Planning Board decision. It was his first board meeting and he was taken aback by the speed of the meeting, he said.
“I would’ve voted no,” he said. “Not because of anything personal against Alan Van Tassel, but we have alternates on the Planning Board that maybe should have been appointed and we just jumped past them. And if Reed wanted to stay involved, I’m fine with that.”
Antis said he would like to serve on the Zoning Board.
“I would be honored to serve my community,” he said.
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