Talks continue on whether to disband F. Hill planning board

Rose Weldon
The Village of Flower Hill is considering dismantling its planning board and giving its powers to the Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustees continued a public hearing on Monday night on transferring the powers of its Planning Board to the trustees.

The law in question, which has been proposed but not voted on, would abolish the Planning Board in an addendum to an action taken last year.

Over Zoom, residents and trustees participated in a second public hearing after one that took place last month, considering what could happen if the board is officially abolished.

Aren Tung of the village’s Port Washington area called for seeking residents with relevant experience and asking them to join the Planning Board instead of folding its powers into the Board of Trustees.

“When you call upon people on the planning committee to give you an external approach on whatever topic it is you’re discussing, it’s another pair of ears,” Tung said. “And I think you need to take all those points into consideration and put the Planning Board back on, you have a very robust community and people who have experience who could add to the board. Reach out to the community, and put people on the board that people have an architectural background, people who will have planning backgrounds, people who have been in real estate. If you wanted to have a Planning Board that had some experience in it, you could reach out to the community to do that. There’s no reason to abolish it.”

Rhoda Becker, a former Planning Board member who previously served as planning commissioner for the Town of North Hempstead, said that the need for the board could arise again.

“A planning board is, no matter what, an advisory group, so there’s no danger in taking over,” Becker said. “But there is a need for planning, things come up and they are needed. So I should like to see this get continued.”

Trustee Gary Lewandowski said he appreciated the comments made at both public hearings.

“I do think there is some activity that needs to be supported by people who can be committed to the idea of local planning,” Lewandowski said. “How that happens and what forum doesn’t matter to me, but I do stress the importance that if it’s something that needs to be done, it should be done actively and not reactively.”

Trustee Jay Beber concurred with Lewandowski.

“Potentially, there are going to be situations that require a level of expertise that might require us to search outside the board. Since the ultimate decision lies with the Board of Trustees, no matter what, I think that we should be open to the possibility that when a project comes up, or as Gary said, with maybe some foresight as to what might be coming up, you might want to enlist the community’s help in special projects,” Beber said. “I don’t necessarily think it has to be a formal planning board. But I do think that getting input from the community, and the resources this community has might be a good idea as well.”

Mayor Brian Herrington acknowledged that if the Planning Board were to be reinstated, its duties would have to be listed clearly and the board given a regular routine.

“One of the criticisms previously was that [the Planning Board] was not an active board or committee and, so, therefore, if we are going to reinstitute it, if there is a push for that, then I think there needs to be a definitive plan of what the duties are and how those duties should be met in a regular routine basis,” Herrington said.

The trustees ultimately chose to continue the public hearing in the future.

During the reorganization portion of the meeting, resident Claire Dorfman of the village’s Manhasset area was officially appointed as a trustee, taking the seat won by the late Mayor Robert McNamara in the September elections.

Flower Hill’s Board of Trustees will next meet on Monday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m., with no further information on live streaming yet provided.

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