Zoning Board Appointment Leads To Council Shouting Match

Township Councilman Carl Wright objecting to an appointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustment at the January 2 Council meeting.

A one-year appointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustment of a vocal warehouse critic caused a brief dust-up at the January 2 Township Council reorganization meeting.

The disagreement between Mayor Phil Kramer and Township Councilman Carl Wright (D-Ward 4) had no effect on the appointment.

The appointment in question was that of Kiki Anastasakos to the unexpired Alternate 4 seat to the Zoning Board, an appointment which expires on December 31.

Anastasakos’ appointment was one of three to the Board.

Wright’s said his concern with the appointment was that Anastasakos is only concerned about warehouse sprawl in the township.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment consists of seven regular members and four alternates. The alternates can participate in discussions about applications, but can only vote in the absence of regular members.

A combination of four regular and alternate members would have to be absent from a meeting before Anastasakos could vote on an application,

“We put someone on the Zoning Board who I wouldn’t have voted for,” Wright said. He said he didn’t want to say anything at the time the appointments were voted on because, “I wouldn’t hold up any other candidates over this.”

Wright said he objected to what he believed was Anastasakos’ single-issue focus.

“When we put somebody on for a one-issue write off, warehouses, then I believe that we should put people on any committee, from zoning board to open space that only have one little pet problem or peeve or want, and we should just put them on there and say the hell with it,” he said.

“She might be a beautiful individual, of course she is,” Wright said. “But how long has she been in town? She said her only thing was to stop warehouses. We’re going to put her on the Zoning Board?”

“Everybody that goes on that zoning board has a thought process to do things as a whole to make sure things come out properly,” he said. “They’re not here to knock somebody down, they’re not here to boost somebody up. If it fits Franklin Township, put it there.”

“I’m not advocating warehouses, I am advocating that if we’re going to do this candidate, which is already done then where do we end up?” he asked. “We’re here to make decisions for the town, not one person. And that’s what we’ve just done.”

“If we don’t do things right, what do we look like?” Wright said. “A bunch of clowns, all nine of us. Because we all voted for something.”

Wright and Kramer clashed before his statements over whether he should be able to make the statements at all in the section of the meeting reserved for Council discussion items.

Normally, Kramer said, discussion items are scheduled. The discussion item at this meeting was a planned February town hall on property assessment.

“Usually, we do not have council discussion items, we just go right past them as a norm,” Wright said. “Tonight, I don’t think so.”

“The norm is we plan a council discussion item for a particular item that requires a council discussion in order to make a decision,” Kramer responded.

“If you’re saying that you want to squash something when another council member wants to say something” you’re saying that “Mr. Wright has something to say that I don’t want to hear,” Wright said to Kramer, his voice level rising.

“I’ll blow this thing up this meeting, next meeting, and every damn meeting after this,” Wright said. “So either you let me say it now, or it’s going to get real ugly real fast.”

“You’re out of order, but go ahead,” Kramer said.

Anastasakos is a founder and vocal member of the Canal Walk-based anti-warehouse group called the Citizens Warehouse Action Group.

She and her fellow group members successfully lobbied the Council to pass ordinances limiting where warehouses can be built in the township.

The group has raised nearly $11,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to fight two proposed warehouses near the Canal Walk development. The Planning Board begins hearings on that application on January 4.

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