Erie County Planning Board: a 2009 Campaign Issue

22 Apr

A few years ago, a Regional Framework for Regional Growth was drafted and approved. Let’s face it – Buffalo and Erie County are not planned in any sort of cohesive fashion. Instead, everything is haphazard, parochial, and ad hoc.

A regional planning board exists in most counties in New York State. But not in Erie County. It would be advisory and made up of volunteers. It would provide guidance and advice – not mandates. Yet County Executive Chris Collins has said he’ll veto it.

This of course means absolutely nothing, since the legislature is currently veto-proof in favor of the Democrats. So Collins can veto all he wants.

One small fraction of WNY’s problems stem from a lack of planning and a lack of discussion. There’s a lack of consideration for the consequences that our decisions have in the long term. Instituting a body – which we already agreed to do under the framework – to help give advice on these issues seems like a no-brainer to me.

If you haven’t already, check out Donn Esmonde’s column on the subject, which I think is dead-on.

But Buffalo is the place where good ideas come to die, so Collins’ opposition should surprise no one. Where’s my Six Sigma shirt?

7 Responses to “Erie County Planning Board: a 2009 Campaign Issue”

  1. The Insider April 22, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

    This might pass but not get a veto proof supermajority. Rumor has it that Leg. Dan Kozub will vote no because loudmouth Lackawanna Mayor thinks the regional planning board would hurt Lackawanna. If either opened their eyes they would see that the baord would help Lackawanna develop new business, not hurt it.

  2. JB April 23, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    We need to give some love to Maria Whyte on this one. At least we have some decent legislators taking up this fight.

  3. 1776 April 23, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Insider, you are right. Word is that Reynolds is also being pressured to vote no, and Wroblewski is voting no, too. So that is 9 votes yes–not veto proof.

  4. Starbuck April 24, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    A county legislature already is a county-wide representative panel. Since the CLwould create a planning board, that means the PB couldn’t possibly have any additional powers than the CL has. Otherwise, if the PB was to have power beyond the CL’s power in any way, a referendum or state approval would be needed and I haven’t seen where anybody’s mentioned that. So the planning board would have a subset of the CL’s powers. Probably a very small subset.

    Therefore, why can’t the CL just do anything and everything that it wants a PB to do?

    What’s stopping Maria Whyte and her majority from convening the county leg on occasion to be the planning board and formulate whatever planning guidelines they think appropriate?

    If she and they don’t do that, and haven’t done that, what should that tell us about how necessary they really the extra guiding and planning is? Why don’t they just do it?

  5. Slothrop April 24, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    starbuck –

    I think the answer to your question is that a county planning board would be as a-political as possible and mandates a certain number of “professionals” who specialize in smart-growth, urban planning, and development.

    If the leg just did what you suggest, the process would become a political disaster and decisions would not be made by professionals.

    Also, the planning board’s only focus is to effectuate the Framework for Regional Growth, whereas the legislature or the County Executive do not have the luxury of focusing on one item due to the various functions of county government.

  6. Jay April 26, 2009 at 9:17 am #


    Starbuck asks some very common sense questions. I hope that you would answer them.

    The Planning Board would they be paid or volunteer? How much time would the volunteer give to studying the issues.? Where would the volunteers come from?… the political leaders of the legislature who are preaching “a-political?”

    It is my simple belief that people run for office to be leaders, to make difficult decisions, to form consensus, to advocate for the future. If you do not want to do this, do not run. Do not refer to yourself as a leader.

    What is stopping Maria Whyte’s agenda of regionalism is the political cowardice of Maria and her cohorts. They are afraid of enacting programs that would offend the electorate and therefor cause them to lose their next election. Maria is only looking for a buffer to protect either her or some of her friends from policies that they don’t have the courage to enact.

    If these elected leaders were really interested in regionalism they would redefine their election districts to be as apoltical or regional as possible. All our elected leaders have chosen to organize their election districts to be safe for the incumbent or party…( parochial interests of their district.) The district lines are artificial and if they wanted they could change them and still meet the one man one vote rule.

    In baseball parlance the county legislators have only to step up to the plate and accept their responsiblity.


  1. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Artvoice Daily - October 17, 2012

    […] Chris Collins didn’t just raise your taxes, he went to court to make sure he could do it. In April 2009, Collins completely disregarded an effort to implement a regional framework for planning … in a region where we have sprawl without population growth. Again- a lack of vision in favor of […]

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