The village of Milford is considering dissolving its combined Planning Board/Zoning Board of Appeals, and returning it to two separate boards.

The village’s attorney advised it to break up the boards as soon as possible because conflicts of interest could arise from people sitting on both boards. Village Mayor Brian Pokorny said said that hasn’t occurred.

Zoning in the village can’t be imposed without the existence of a Zoning Board of Appeals, according to a media release from the village. Over the past three or four years, the village struggled to find enough volunteers to cover both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, which is why the two boards were combined, Village Clerk Kitty Ruling said.

Now, Ruling said, there’s been enough volunteer interest to have people covering both boards. The Planning Board would have seven members and the Zoning Board of Appeals would have five. The combined board now has five active members.

Some of the current board members have done online zoning training, Pokorny said. Now the village is making training mandatory, regardless of whether the board gets split. A former zoning enforcement officer for the village will provide the mandatory four hours per year of training to those involved in zoning, he said.

There will be a hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 for residents to voice their opinions about the proposed local law to dissolve the combined boards. 

“The Village Board, myself and the village trustees, will take into consideration what the people have to say at the public hearing,” Pokorny said. “If we feel it’s in the best interest of the village, we will abolish the current board and create two boards.”

The board hasn’t faced any issues with zoning yet, said Joanne Bliss, a Planning/Zoning Board of Appeals member. If someone asks for a permit or variance and isn’t satisfied with the Planning Board’s decision, that person can take it to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which she said hasn’t happened during her time with the board. Bliss said as long as there were enough people to cover both boards, she would be OK with whatever decision the village came to.

The village is also seeking to fill more spots on both boards if the local law is approved. Preferred applicants would be village residents, but seats are open to all Otsego County residents.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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