Republican Ballston Spa zoning board board seat is taken by political opponent – The Daily Gazette
BALLSTON SPA — After Republican Bernadette VanDeinse-Perez won her seat on the Ballston Spa board of directors in a special election this month, she had to step down from her seat on the village’s zoning appeals board. On Monday, VanDeinse-Perez’s seat in the zoning body was taken by the Democratic administrator candidate she defeated in the special election.
Republicans are calling Democratic Mayor Christine Fitzpatrick’s nomination of Kamran Parwana to the zoning appeals board — a decision the village board approved on Monday — a politically motivated decision that overlooked an experienced candidate in Gary Dale, who has been an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals since January 2021.
For his part, Fitzpatrick, whose term ends next week, defended his appointment, calling Parwana “extremely brilliant”.
“It’s nothing but a political gesture. It’s clear and it’s disappointing,” said Mayor-elect Frank Rossi Jr., who beat Fitzpatrick in this month’s special election. “[Parwana] is a good person and someone that I too would like to see involved, but the problem is that you want someone who has a good history with this council to be a member of the council themselves. That’s why we use the alternative system.
Fitzpatrick said Parwana is qualified for the zoning seat.
“I’m not saying Gary Dale isn’t a good candidate, but sometimes we have a hard time involving people on committees, and if we find someone who’s a strong candidate, someone who has skills and intelligence, these are the people we want to appoint,” said Fitzpatrick.
Neither Parwana nor Dale returned messages seeking comment.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is an apolitical voting body of five members, with three alternates, which makes critical decisions regarding the development of the village. The appeal board is looking at zoning restrictions, building heights, use of green space, density, historic preservation and the types of businesses that can open, among other issues.
Parwana’s term will end in 2026. Director VanDeinse-Perez was the only board member to vote against the nomination. She said her opposition to Parwana’s appointment was not personal, but she said neglecting Dale went against a common practice in the village of moving alternates to permanent positions.
“If we try to put the best people in there – people who have experience – Gary [Dale] is that person,” she said. “I understand that Christine [Fitzpatrick] might have wanted to leave a legacy, but it was honestly a faux pas on his part.
New York State law has permitted the use of alternates for zoning appeal boards since 1998.
Administrator Shawn Raymond, a Democrat, said promoting committee alternates is not a hard-and-fast rule in the village, and nothing in village code specifies that zoning board members serve as alternates before moving on. get a full-time job.
“I would say it’s a practice we try to do,” Raymond said of the substitute promotion. “This is not always a practice that has been followed in the past.”
Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Anna Stanko said serving as a substitute is an important part of the learning process. She said she was an alternate before becoming a full member — just like VanDeinse-Perez. Alternates fill in whenever full-time members cannot attend meetings. Stanko said Dale has attended a handful of meetings during his current tenure.
“Substitutes come to meetings, they see how everything works, they understand the kinds of questions we ask. It’s a good lesson,” Stanko said. “So my feelings were that Gary [Dale] should have been promoted, and if they wanted to appoint Kamran [Parwana]he should have been appointed alternate.
Democrats have said Parwana is the right person for the job right now.
” I named [Parwana] based on my observation of his talent and commitment, and it’s very common practice,” Fitzpatrick said. “The other side saying it was political is really a case of the pot calling the kettle black.”
Raymond said he was impressed with Parwana’s resume.
Parwana’s LinkedIn profile lists him as director of Altai Consulting, which conducts strategy, research and impact assessments in developing countries. Parwana, who holds degrees from the University of Albany and Northeastern University, has had jobs based in Afghanistan and Tunisia, according to LinkedIn. Gary Dale’s LinkedIn page lists him as Design Section Manager at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“[Parwana] worked a lot with municipalities to organize and plan and really understand the nature of code interpretation and understanding,” said Raymond. “He had to do things not exactly like zoning law, but similar things and had to navigate codes and laws and different things internationally.”
Raymond also said it was important for the leadership of the village to be diverse.
“We really need to prioritize our committees and boards that reflect and represent the diversity of our village today,” he said. “I want people from different ethnic backgrounds, different genders and also different political affiliations.”
The dispute over the seat is the latest disagreement in a deeply divided village. Fitzpatrick, who became mayor after the unexpected resignation of Mayor Larry Woolbright in October, lost a close special election race to Rossi, 553 to 498. VanDeinse-Perez beat Parwana 610 to 440 in the race for administrators. The terms of Rossi and VanDeinse-Perez will run until November 2023.
“Our village is very divided right now,” VanDeinse-Perez said. Of Parwana’s appointment, she said, “I think it was partly a somewhat political decision, but ultimately I want to put those things aside.”
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.
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