In previous posts I have noted the long and proud history of the City Democratic Party in its steadfast defense of the Greenbelt. With that in mind, I called Charlie Brown, the current Chair of the City Committee to ask if he and members of the Committee would be commenting regarding the proposed changes to the zoning of the conservation district and comp plan to accommodate Saratoga National Golf Course’s desire to expand. He told me that because of the time he had to devote to the recent primary that he was not up on the details of the changes. When I told him where he could find the information on the proposal the Council will vote on, he told me that on such a controversial issue he would not feel comfortable speaking publically on the matter. He also said that for the same reason he did not think it appropriate for the executive committee to take a position. The conversation was cordial. I expressed my disappointment and our conversation ended. A few minutes later he called me back and said on further consideration he hoped to poll the committee regarding the issue and to have the executive committee act depending upon the response. I welcomed the idea and offered to post whatever he wanted to say on my site verbatim if he wanted to send me something. This is what I received:
From: Charley Brown [email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2015 12:43 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: Re: test
Sorry for the late response, I have been on the phone…
Our committee issued a 9 page statement to the Comp Plan. Review committee in full support of the Green Belt concept(s) when the first changes to the RR zone was being discussed and then I, as Chair, followed up with a number of statements opposing those changes…
We, the Exec comm. and our full committee have continued to follow, and discuss, the various proposals for Saratoga National. However, the most resent proposal, which to my knowledge did not become public until late this week, has come at a time when our full attention has been focused on a primary election. Starting yesterday, I have spoken a number of our Exec about the possibility of a statement at the next City Council meeting, 4 days from now. It is our hope that Tuesday night will be only a public hearing on this issue and not be followed up by a vote….
Preparing a statement for the Tuesday night meeting does not seem likely due our long standing policy that the Chair does not speak out on particular issues unless there is a strong majority vote of the full committee supporting the statement. (The Chair speaks for the committee, not for his or herself).
I will continue speaking with the Exec. and will bring up this issue with our full committee at our next full committee meeting, Sept 19th….
While it is too bad that the decision will happen after the hearing, it looks like the City Council vote will not happen that night. In that light, Mr. Brown’s decision to have the committee directly act on the issue is to be lauded. Were the Committee to have the courage to take a stand on this issue it could very well affect the outcome.