Yepsen Appoints Two To Land Use Boards

Mayor Joanne Yepsen made two appointments to land use boards at the Tuesday, January 3rd City Council meeting.

Yepsen appointed Amy Durland to fill the unexpired term of Howard Pinsley on the Planning Board.  The term will end next year.

Ms. Durland has established herself, in my eyes, as one of the best people to have served on our land use boards.  An attorney by training, Ms. Durland has a record of extraordinary thoroughness in her preparation for meetings.  She has served on both the Zoning Board of Appeals and on the Planning Board.  For a period she chaired the Planning Board.  She has also shown herself to be fearless in her willingness to do what she believes to be right while maintaining a courteous and dignified manner.  It is not easy to say no to applicants.  Just on a human level, the tendency to please can be quite strong.  Couple this with serving on boards that have been traditionally dominated by the real estate industry, it is particularly hard.  Ms. Durland has not been afraid to be the sole dissenter as she was recently on an issue involving commercial property where the CVS pharmacy and Purdy’s Liquor are located.

I must give the Mayor a lot of credit for making this appointment.  For obvious reasons, Ms. Durland is not a popular figure with the development community in our city.

This is quite the extreme reversal from Mayor Yepsen’s reappointment of Bill Moore to serve another seven years as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  In contrast to Ms. Durland, Mr. Moore appears to be oblivious to any elements of the zoning laws and the comprehensive plan that would temper his apparent passion to please the developers who come before him.  Mr. Moore, who is a real estate appraiser,  most notoriously recently supported the “barn conversion” on Murphy Lane and “Downton Walk.”

Some might argue that Mayor Yepsen has not merely burned her bridges with the development community but incinerated them.  The whole hearted support Mayor Yepsen’s last opponent enjoyed from the Saratoga PAC demonstrated this.  It is possible that she has decided to embrace what I call the “quality of life” constituency.  These are the people who are more concerned about traffic congestion, green space, bike paths, etc.  The demographics of this city have changed radically during the last two decades from the provincial village that was owned by the Republicans and that viewed exploitation of our land as the ultimate goal of city planning to a community dominated by people who have moved here for the city’s charm and want to protect this.

Mayor Yepsen also appointed Cheryl Grey to the Zoning Board of Appeals as a regular board member.  Ms. Grey had been serving as an alternate on that board.  Ms. Grey has also established a record for rigorously preparing for land use meetings.  She has a long history of being involved in land use questions.  I am cautiously hopeful that she will demonstrate the same independence and grit that Ms. Durland has shown.


5 thoughts on “Yepsen Appoints Two To Land Use Boards”

  1. I have quite a few ‘bones to pick’ with this post John.

    First, I like and respect Amy as well. But after all of the research I have done into affordable housing Sustainable Saratoga absolutely blew it with this IZOD proposal, and they are absolutely oblivious to the impacts all of these zoning changes have made to the cost of living here and it’s impacts on affordable housing itself. We continue to disagree vehemently on this issue.

    I had many meetings with John concerning affordable housing. I had some with Joanne as well. I would have to think at this point in time I have a ‘pretty good idea’ of what both of them wanted in that area, and the path they were looking to take – and I supported John Safford. He is NOT this horrible ‘madman’ that is going to ‘blacktop the greenbelt!’. John understands HOW to solve this problem – not just to say things to gain votes and give the appearance of actually doing something. He’s a GOOD man, and an HONEST man. And if he runs again I’d be proud to support him. You see John, Safford is for Saratoga. Yepsen is for Yepsen. And that should be quite obvious to anyone in this city at this point.

    And I want to make this perfectly clear: to anyone who thinks that Yepsen did NOT want that PAC endorsement? Guess again. And to knock John Safford for something that he could not control is horribly wrong. Super PAC’s control their own agenda, NOT the candidates, and in most cases are detrimental to them (and they certainly were in the case of Mr. Safford). I took a LOT of flak for my stand with John from those whom I fought the PAC with – but was proven right in the end. I knew what the REAL truth was for both candidates and that’s why I made the stand I did – however unpopular it may have been at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Merlin. Sometimes the truth gets lost in the middle of everything else that is going on. And as much as people think I am ‘political’, I really don’t like politics. I just want the right thing to be done, based on truth – the facts and figures – not ‘politics’.

        I DO wish John or someone else would do something regarding the affordable housing issue, and specifically the current IZOD proposal to get the REAL truth out about that as well. Here’s an example: in my last meeting with SusSar just a couple weeks ago, I noted to them that their online documentation stated that stated that their “research for the 2006 proposal was still was valid”. I pointed out to them it was not – that we had a decade plus worth of more information regarding IZOD proposals that conclusively prove that their studies were outdated and not accurate. The wording of the summary document they now have online – dated Aug 2016 – now reads as such:

        “Sustainable Saratoga proposes that the City Council adopt an inclusionary zoning ordinance as an effective means of addressing the need to provide housing that is affordable, especially for middle-income residents. We are recommending essentially the same ordinance that was prepared in 2006 after a year-long study. The ordinance has been tailored specifically to the city’s needs, reflecting our housing and development history.”

        So it’s worded a bit different, but it’s hardly from Aug 2016. I don’t really care about that however. What I DO care about is the truth. And the truth is this was a bad proposal in 2006, and it’s an even worse proposal now. The direction SusSar is heading in is detrimental to the very issue they are trying to help, and the evidence for that is conclusive. And that comes from what many consider a ‘lefty’ taking a ‘righty’ position. It’s not very popular with many of my friends, but like the Yepsen/Saratoga PAC thing, I know I ‘did my homework’ on this and have it right. And when that happens, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure people understand the truth about it all.

        But please note: I’m not trying to knock Sustainable Saratoga here either. They are a good organization (and very good people as well) that has done some very good things for our city. Unfortunately they got this one wrong is all. This COULD still work however, but they really have to bend to do it and they just don’t seem willing to do so.


      2. I also want to note that I am ‘pre-morning beverage’ so it’s possible that did NOT change the wording on the document, but either way, that statement they made can not possibly be accurate given the data/studies of the past decade against it.


  2. I agree with john Kaufman completely. I am a big fan of Amy Durand for all the reasons that John cited. I also think that Cheryl Grey is a good choice for the ZBA.

    Chris Mathiesenb


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