As I understand the Mayor’s email (see below) neither she nor her office agreed to the language that Mr. Shimkus sought regarding weakening (making more flexible) the language in the Comprehensive Plan.
My Last Email To Mayor Yepsen
From: John Kaufmann [email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2016 10:13 PM
To: ‘Joanne Yepsen’
Subject: Chamber and Comp Plan
In your last email you indicated you would review my question carefully and respond by the end of the week. It is now Friday night and I have not heard from you.
I mean no disrespect but this is my fifth email to you. if I do not receive an answer to my original question by Wednesday, January 27th, I will assume that you do not wish to answer and I will not correspond with you further on this matter.
Mayor Yepsen’s Response
From: Joanne Yepsen [Hidden For Privacy]
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2016 1:35 PM
(The entire server is down for City Hall, so to get this response to you, I send through my personal email address.)
This is in response to your previous inquiries which I am happy to address at this time.
As you may recall, when I came into office, the Comprehensive Plan Committee had been appointed and meeting for seven months; I had no appointments to the committee. By the summer of 2014 the Comprehensive Plan Committee (CPC) had grown increasingly divisive and less productive.
Members of the committee were threatening to walk away entirely, thereby derailing months and months of time and effort by the committee, city staff and financial esources, the city’s consultant ($60,000 contract approved by previous Mayor and Council) and the general public.
In an effort to move the process to a better place so we could give our citizens a long over-due Comprehensive Plan update, members of my staff (the deputy mayor, the Office of Planning and Economic Development, our CPC consultant MJ Engineering, as well as myself on a couple of occasions) met with many members of the Comprehensive Plan committee to discuss their frustrations and concerns about the overall process, and on how best to move forward. Neither myself, nor my staff, ever met exclusively with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce with regards to the Comprehensive Plan. City staff did meet with Mr. Shimkus, among many other committee members (many of whom requested a meeting) but only in his capacity as a member of the CPC. The CPC members we worked with identified areas that were significant sticking points and our goal was to identify those points for additional, productive conversation at the committee level.
The Mayor’s Office, myself included, never insisted that any particular word, phrase, or language be used in the plan. In addition, it should be noted that with the exception of the 53 items that were unable to be resolved at the committee level, every section and every word of the CPC’s final work product was brought before the City Council, publicly reviewed, discussed and voted on prior to its inclusion.
Currently, we are gearing up for our Unified Development Ordinance project (UDO), which is, for those who are not familiar with it, a review and analysis of our city’s zoning laws, policies, and regulations which must be done shortly after an updated Comprehensive Plan. Please keep in mind, the comp plan is a vision, something to aim for and work towards and zoning is the primary tool to implement this plan so the UDO process and product will be critical.
Please be advised that my office has not met with the Chamber, or any other outside organization regarding the UDO. Our consultant for the UDO, Behan Planning and Design, is in the process with meeting with various organizations in the city, including the Chamber. This weekend, we are issuing a press release announcing a large community workshop to be held all day and evening on February 4th, the point of which is for our consultant to be the beneficiary of additional public input prior to their drafting of the zoning diagnostic report.
It is my hope that you can share the information with others so we can set the record straight and so that we can conduct our UDO project with the utmost public faith, cooperation, and full participation, starting with the workshops on February 4.
Original Email On Mayor Yepsen And The Chamber
On Dec 27, 2015, at 5:32 PM, “John Kaufmann” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Joanne, in reading the comments on the Unified Development Ordinance site I came across comments apparently submitted by the Chamber of Commerce. The text is below. They assert that they met with you and that you came to an agreement with the Chamber to weaken the language for many items replacing words like implement, establish, or require with words like review, consider, evaluate, etc.
Is this an accurate description of what transpired?
From UDO Web Site Re Chamber’s Comments
Through the Mayor’s office, there was one effort made to find common ground that resulted in the use of some specific words in various recommended actions that we believe specifically indicates a clear preference to create flexibility including:
- “Update” the open space plan not implement.
- “Review and update” the City’s Historic Preservation plan not implement.
- Adopt “reasonable” guidelines that “encourage” restoration not require.
- “Review” guidelines for stream buffers not establish.
- “Encourage” the development of residential and commercial buildings that exceed minimum state level energy efficiency not require or establish or implement.
- Ensure an adequate size and width for public right of ways “wherever feasible.”
- “Consider” establishing a Generic Environmental Impact Statement to address citywide traffic impacts not establish or implement.
- “Evaluate” form-based zoning not establish or implement.
- “Consider” establishing dedicated funds for affordable housing not create.
- Thank you for your prompt response.