J.M.W. Turner's "Chichester Canal" at the Tate Gallery, London

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shandaken resident seeks ethics probe over renovation plan

Story from the Daily Freeman:

This week’s meeting of the Shandaken Town Board ended with a heated discussion about the ethics of some town officials — some named and others not identified — after a Phoenicia resident complained about what he said was the uneven way town laws are enforced.

Chris Fisher, who lives on Main Street nearby the former Al’s Restaurant, came to the board asking how to request an ethics investigation, alleging that some building projects, like the one now underway at Al’s, are being done above the law, while others, like the controversial Hanover farm stand in Mount Tremper, fall victim to overwhelming scrutiny.

Fisher said that his problem was not with Mike Ricciardella, the eatery’s current owner, who is renovating the structure, but with town officials who authorized the renovation. He said the building is being expanded beyond what the law allows.

“Either enforce the law or don’t enforce the law,” he said. “It’s got to be equal across the board.”

Blaming the town’s Planning Board for granting permission for the project, Fisher asked how to go about requesting an ethics investigation. When he was told to bring the matter to Supervisor Rob Stanley, who was absent from the meeting, Fisher said Stanley is “part of the problem.”

It was noted by audience member Robert Kalb that Fisher attended the public hearing on Ricciardella’s renovation project and did not make any complaints.

At Monday night’s Town Board meeting, Fisher said new information about the project had come to light after the hearing.

Town Building Inspector Al Frisenda, who is responsible for issuing building permits, told the Town Board that if Fisher has a problem with any action of the Planning Board, his only recourse is to sue the town.

Fisher said he does not want to sue the town.

“My issue is the unethical behavior,” he said.

The following morning, Stanley said he had no involvement in any Planning Board or Building Department actions, nor did any other member of the Town Board.

He also said he had been made aware that, at the Monday night meeting, Fisher publicly described him as “crooked,” and that he will now look into taking legal action against Fisher for what he said is a slanderous remark.

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