On Tuesday night the city council had to deal with the State Environment Quality Review for the proposed solar amendment. The SEQR format is a document with a list of yes and no questions. Commissioner Madigan read each of the questions along with the proposed answers. None of the members of the council expressed any problems with any of the answers so it was bizarre that at the end, when the council voted, Mayor Yepsen and Commissioner Frank voted against the resolution affirming that there would be no negative impact (neg dec). When Mayor Yepsen and Commissioner Frank were asked why, in light of the fact that they had no objection to any of the answers on the form, that they opposed the resolution, they declined to answer. Mayor Yepsen said that her reasoning would become clear later on in the meeting. Commissioner Frank simply repeated several times “I voted no and No is no” as though that meant something. Commissioner Matheisen then pointed out that this made no sense. He noted that the question of whether the change in the ordinance would have an adverse environmental impact was separate from whether one opposed the actual change in the ordinance. He asked Commissioner Frank and Mayor Yepsen if they could indicate which answers to the questions, if any that they disagreed with. Neither Commissioner Frank nor Mayor Yepsen would address his question. Yepsen simply repeated that it would become clearer later in the meeting and Frank repeated that no is no.
If you would like to review the video of what happened you can go to this link:
On the right, select “Finance Department (Part 1 of 2) – 4. Discussion and Vote: Determination of SEQR. The first eleven minutes, Commissioner Madigan goes through all the questions individually with the proposed answers. At 11 minutes and twenty-four seconds she makes the motion for the negative declaration and the discussion begins.
This indicates how difficult it is in the current political environment to have a reasoned and thoughtful discussion on some very difficult but important issues.