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The Association for a Better Long Island is calling on Adrienne Esposito, an environmentalist running for the State Senate, to resign as a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
“You cannot have an individual running for public office that's part of a commission that makes public policy decisions related to land use,“ said Desmond Ryan, executive director of the group, which lobbies for commercial, industrial and real estate interests. “In the name of impartiality, transparency and good government, she should step aside.“
Esposito said she has no plans to resign. She referred to ABLI as the “Association to Black Top Long Island.“ It “has always been anti-environment. This isn't news. It's comedy.“
The Third District seat, which GOP state Sen. Lee Zeldin of Shirley is vacating to run for Congress, is one of three on Long Island that could be crucial to Democrats, who hope to tip control from a coalition of state Senate Republicans and dissident Democrats.
Planning Commission chairman David Calone said there is no requirement under state or county law that members step down while running for office. “Adrienne brings an important perspective to the County Planning Commission as it helps chart a course for Suffolk County's future,“ he said.
He noted the commission has a recusal procedure if there's a potential conflict on a particular development or policy.
Esposito has often tangled with developers. Recently, she and other environmentalists have pushed for legislation in Albany to form a clean water commission for Long Island and set stricter nitrogen standards for bays. An early version of that bill has been vigorously opposed by residential and commercial developers, as well as other business groups.
Esposito, of Patchogue, is vice chairwoman of the planning commission, an unpaid post. Members are nominated by the Suffolk County executive and confirmed by the Suffolk County Legislature. The commission reviews developments approved by local governments and proposes land-use policies.
Ryan said Esposito's position as an environmentalist did not influence the decision to ask her to resign, saying ABLI would have asked any commission member running for office to step down.