Tuesday, August 23, 2011

hearing 13: stalemate, public safety, community and the law secondary to other concerns

Can anyone tell me what it is that I am supposed to have done wrong? I mean, what I'm accused of having done wrong?

To review quickly, the town of Stuyvesant issued me a permit to run a dog boarding facility. The zoning officer revoked the permit a few months later on the grounds that my facility produced too much noise. He supplied no evidence. The noise was supposedly from dog barking, and I had a permit to operate a kennel-like facility. Over the next year, I have been to 13 hearings in town hall about this issue, including criminal court, planning and zoning. I have done a sound test by an international acoustics firm that was affirmed by the editor of the leading peer review architectural acoustics journal in the world and two other PhD acoustical engineers with long track records of peer reviewed publication. This test showed that the charge of "loud" defies the laws of physics as measured and calculated.

I appealed an issue of noise but the board decided to look into any other issue that they might be able to use against me. They moved the goal post.

Tonight they finally voted on something.

The board was unable to reach a majority vote. They need 4 out of 7 votes but only 5 were there to vote, so any resolution would have had to be 4 to 1 to carry.

The first resolution, proposed by William Vick, chair, was to re-classify my business as commercial. He made the silly fence argument. He mentioned that my barn and house are on separate lots, only because of a planning board mistake which I filed to rectify and the planning board refused to ratify. So, yes, on two lots. Is that so bad? Fence. Is that bad?

We argue that the zoning board does not have the authority to do this, overrule the planning board's previous designation of class 2 home occupation permit. Also, this is moving the goal post. I appealed a dog barking issue. If you take some other action for some other reason, you are not hearing my appeal. The zoning board of appeals exists to prevent oppressive use of zoning not to engage in oppressive use of zoning.

The motion got 3 votes: Margaret Pino, Jeff Jensen, and William Bill Vick. Kent Keller and Amy Abbati voted no. 3 to 2.

The next motion was suggested by Amy Abbati. She offered that as town law says that the zoning officer "shall" issue a notice to the potential violator to appear in town court, and as Gerry Ennis didn't do that, that his notice of revocation is void. This is in fact why we appealed.

This resolution went down: Kent Keller, yes, Amy Abatti, yes, Margaret Pino, Jeff Jensen, and William Bill Vick, no. 2 to 3.

The next resolution was about noise, introduced by Kent Keller, to rule that Gerry Ennis did not establish that I produced unusual noise is excess of a normal residence. Kent Keller, yes, Amy Abatti, yes, Jeff Jensen, yes and William Bill Vick, no, Margaret Pino, no. 3 to 2.

William Vick was here during the sound test Sunday and knows for a fact that there is no unusual noise in excess of that produced by a normal residence. But he voted no anyway.

Margaret Pino said that even if the noise was not loud, if people say its annoying, that's good enough for her. Not good enough for the law, but she didn't care and David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna was comfortable with board members members voting on whims and prejudices and did not bother to cite the law.

Our side was not given an opportunity to present evidence. I was not allowed to show that there are no complaints that do not also contain false statements. I was not allowed to show the threats leveled against me and my family by the same people who are complaining. I was not allowed to discuss the relevant town law on zoning issues. I have not been given time to show that the complaints are malicious. I have never been given a chance to present my full case.

I was not allowed to discuss the kinds of zoning in town and why I have the right kind. No one has presented any evidence that there is any impact of my business on the community at all. Some of the board ignored the fact the supporters out number complainers in the neighborhood 4 to 1.

The Register Star called after the hearing but it was late. He didn't call back in the morning. Just as well.

Audio and video to come.

This is old:

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