The East Hampton Town Board recently appointed new members to the East Hampton Town Planning Board, Town Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Architectural Review Board, bringing a number of new names into Town Hall.
Last Thursday, the town board unanimously appointed James Patrick Foster and Ian Calder-Piedmonte to the planning board, and appointed Ruth Vered to the architectural review board. On Tuesday, Bryan Gosman of Montauk was appointed to the zoning board of appeals for a five-year term, and Lee White, whose term had expired, was appointed to fill the remaining two years of Phil Gamble’s term. Mr. Gamble resigned after 32 years on the zoning board. Alex Walter will become chairman of the zoning board.
With Eileen Catalano’s unexpected resignation from the planning board earlier this month, there were three seats in play on that board. Mr. Foster will serve the remainder of Ms. Catalano’s term, through the end of 2013. Mr. Calder-Piedmonte will take up the final year of Peter Van Scoyoc’s term following Mr. Van Scoyoc’s election to the town board. The town board also reappointed Patrick Schutte to the planning board for another seven-year term, through 2018, reappointed Reed Jones as planning board chairman, and named Diana Weir the new vice chairwoman. Mr. Van Scoyoc abstained from the vote on the planning board appointments.
“I actually did not plan on coming back, and quite a few people lobbied for me from the town, and asked me to come back,” said Mr. Schutte, who owns and manages Hampton Septic. “I do feel an obligation to help people with the process,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great working board this year, and I’m excited about our future. I hope it will be harmonious.”
Of her tenure on the planning board, Ms. Catalano said, “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served the town, and I look forward to continuing to do so in any way that I can in the future. I love East Hampton — it is an incredibly special place.”
Mr. Foster has lived in East Hampton for 23 years, and is originally from Sag Harbor. “My family has been based in East Hampton and Southampton for many generations,” he said. He is a supervisor of the 911 center at East Hampton Village’s Emergency Services Building and is a vice president for Town and Country Real Estate in East Hampton.
The planning board is “something I’d always been interested in, truthfully. I’ve got a lot of history in the town family-wise, and I just want to be a part of the future going forward,” Mr. Foster said. “I look forward to getting started.”
Mr. Calder-Piedmonte is from Monroe, Mich., and has lived in East Hampton for the past eight years. He is a partial owner of Basalm Farms and runs the farm’s stand in Amagansett. He said Tuesday that his appointment “was a little unexpected. I’m not by nature a really political person. It’s not something I sought out,” but “when I was asked I really recognized it as an honor, and I think it’s something I can do.”
Mr. Calder-Piedmonte said he was “flattered with the response. I’ve had nothing but encouragement and positive words from the Planning Department and planning board. It seems like a lot of really good people, and I’m looking forward to meeting everybody.”
Mr. Jones, a licensed insurance broker at Amaden Gay Agencies in East Hampton, said he is “very excited about our board and this upcoming term. We have some new youthful members that provide a wonderful balance of representation. . . . J.P. Foster has been a lifelong resident of the town and has tremendous experience. It is also a plus to have Ian Calder-Piedmonte. His farming background will provide us with an added benefit on farm related applications.”
Ms. Weir, the new vice chairwoman, is the executive vice president of the Long Island Housing Partnership. She was appointed to the board in December to complete Frank Falcone’s term, which expires in 2018. Ms. Weir promised to “work diligently for East Hampton’s residents and businesses.”
The town board discussed the zoning board appointments during a short executive session on Tuesday.
When a resolution approving all of the appointments was offered during a subsequent public session, both Democratic board members, Sylvia Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc, said that they had requested a separate vote on each appointment, but that the board majority had declined.
Ms. Overby said that, though she supported the appointment of Lee White, and of Alex Walter as Z.B.A. chairman, she could not approve the appointment of Mr. Gosman, whom she did not know, or Don Cirillo’s designation as vice chairman.
“In his capacity as vice chair,” she said, “he wrote a memo that said he doesn’t believe in the process — the process he was ruling on . . . and that the environmental assessment forms could safely be ignored.”
“I can’t support someone in a leadership position who doesn’t believe in that process,” Ms. Overby said. “I think you have to believe in the process to render fair and accurate decisions for the community.”
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson disagreed with her assessment. “It’s inaccurate to say that Mr. Cirillo said that the environmental assessment forms could be ignored,” Ms. Quigley said. “I believe that’s your interpretation of what he said.”
“I fully support Don Cirillo . . . because he has dared to ask important questions. He has dared to try to look at a process. . . ,” Ms. Quigley said.
After Ms. Overby read from the memo in question, Mr. Wilkinson said that Mr. Cirillo “was writing about specific comments — what I believe were, at best, editorial comments on the part of the planners.”
“Mr. Don Cirillo, as far as I am concerned, has brought a business dynamic to the zoning board,” the supervisor said. “People often confuse, as they do with us, business practices with abrasiveness, or pace of things, pushing things through.”
Ms. Overby abstained from the vote on the appointments. Mr. Van Scoyoc, while noting again his objection to having to vote on all of them as a block, voted to approve them. Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said he fully supported the resolution and that he had “great confidence” in the appointees.
“I appreciate the support of the board,” Mr. Cirillo said yesterday. “Unfortunately, it couldn’t have been unanimous. It is what it is,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with Mr. Gosman,” he added, “I don’t have a problem with Alex being chair, I think he’ll be great. I thank Phil for his service, and I look forward to going forward with the board.”
All of the town board members joined in acknowledging the 32-year tenure of Mr. Gamble, who received a proclamation at the Z.B.A. meeting Tuesday night. “He left a legacy of being plain-spoken and clear,” Ms. Quigley said at the town board meeting Tuesday. “I think that people see him as being fair,” she said, adding that he “looked out for our local community.”
“These are very big shoes to fill,” said Mr. Walter, the new Z.B.A. chairman. Mr. Gamble has “redefined public service over the past 32 years.”
“I think we made progress in refining some of the processes,” Mr. Walter said. “I think we can continue to do that, and find the balance between the property owners’ needs, the taxpayers’ needs, and at the same time protect the environment we live in. If we find that balance, we’re doing our job.”
Mr. White, who fills out Mr. Gamble’s term, works in property management for John Lycke Home Services.
Mr. Gosman works at Gosman’s Wholesale Seafood Fish Market in Montauk. As of press time, he had not returned calls for an interview.
Ms. Vered, who lives in Sag Harbor, was appointed by a unanimous vote to a five-year term on the architectural review board and will serve through 2016, following Richard Baxter’s resignation. Owner of the Vered Gallery in East Hampton, she is involved with fund-raising locally for the East Hampton Fire Department, the Retreat, and the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.
“I’m really looking forward and very proud and happy to give something back to the community,” she said. “And I think I’m going to do a very good job because I care about East Hampton.”
Robert Schwagerl, the architectural review board chairman, and Christopher DiSunno, the vice chairman, will continue in their positions.
With Reporting by Joanne Pilgrim