Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts wants the village to webcast live trustees, zoning board and planning board meetings and he’s planning to webcast tomorrow’s zoning board meeting himself to demonstrate how easily and inexpensively it can be done, he says.
Roberts introduced a measure last month to authorize the webcasts, but it was rejected by a majority of trustees because the cost to the village was not detailed.
“I understand that and will address that,” Roberts said Saturday.
Meanwhile, he said, he’s going to webcast tomorrow night’s ZBA meeting, where a
potentially controversial application regarding a proposed hotel on the corner of Third and Front streets is on the agenda.
“It’s a very important meeting and the idea is to allow people to be able to see what’s going on even if they can’t come to the meeting,” Roberts said.
Tomorrow night’s ZBA meeting will take place beginning at 5 p.m. at the schoolhouse on Front Street. The location was changed from the ZBA’s regular venue (the firehouse meeting room) because the board was concerned its meeting would not be concluded before the room would have to be turned over to the fire department wardens for their scheduled meeting tomorrow evening.
The webcast will be made via the website GoToMeeting.com and may be accessed here.
On the ZBA’s agenda tomorrow is a proposed three-story hotel for the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Front and Third streets. Westchester-based SAKD Holdings LLC wants to build a 16-room hotel with a 70-seat restaurant and retail shop on the ground floor.
The site is in the village’s Waterfront Commercial District. As proposed, the building will likely requires, depending on the outcome of requested interpretations by the ZBA: a lot coverage variance (46 percent instead of the 40 percent maximum); a 12-foot height variance (three stories and 47 feet instead of two stories and 35 feet); off-street parking variance (12 instead of 36 parking spaces); a variance from the requirement of an off-street loading berth; and a front-yard setback variance to allow a raised, trellised outdoor dining area on Front Street within the required 6-foot setback.
The issue of live webcasting village meetings came to a head with the request of ZBA chairman Doug Moore to listen in on meetings by teleconference when he can’t attend in person. Absent members joining meetings by teleconference — or webcast — will not be able to vote during the teleconference or webcast. But Moore and other officials say following the proceedings by phone or video will help them make future decisions, supplementing the minutes of the meetings prepared by a transcriptionist.
Roberts also argues that webcasting, which he says can be done inexpensively, is a good government measure. Making government proceedings accessible live to citizens who can’t attend meetings in person will enhance citizen involvement in local government, Roberts says.