Three new members have been appointed to the Long Island Regional Planning Council, potentially changing the dynamics of the bi-county advisory panel, which has championed affordable housing and favored major redevelopment projects.
The new council members appointed by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and approved by the county legislature are Anthony Sabino, an attorney specializing in land-use, zoning and water issues who also represents the Bethpage Water District; Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno; and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.
They replace Tom Garry, an attorney with the Harris Beach law firm in Uniondale, former Farmingdale Village Mayor George Starkie and North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, whose terms had expired. All were appointed by former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi.
All the former members, in separate interviews, praised the council's role as an important player in regional matters.
"It was a great opportunity to get a regional, Islandwide perspective," Kaiman said. Garry concurred, saying: "It's critical for advocating for projects that are . . . critical for the future success in maintaining our young folks, like transit-oriented developments" in downtowns.
Starkie said, "I absolutely loved the position," citing access to government leaders and information. "I can't find the word to describe my disappointment" at no longer being on the council, he said.
Starkie said it was "ironic" that the at-large seat he had hoped to get went to the lawyer who represents the Bethpage Water District. Starkie said as mayor he had rejected Sabino's proposals to merge Farmingdale's water system with the Bethpage district.
Farmingdale Village officials continue to deliberate on the issue. Starkie said he contacted Mangano's office to discuss the situation, but hasn't heard back.
A spokesman for Mangano said the county executive couldn't be reached to discuss the matter. Sabino wrote in an email he had "no idea" why Starkie wasn't reappointed, but doubted Bethpage Water issues played any role in Mangano's appointment decision.
Sabino and Venditto have conflicts and will miss Tuesday's council meeting. Sabino is out of the country until next week, and Venditto has a town board meeting. Donno, in a statement, said she looks forward "to discussing key issues and projects that will have significant impacts on our region."
Venditto, whose views on redevelopment have sometimes clashed with the council's, said, "I agree with many of the things they do and I disagree with many of the things they do."
He summed up his approach this way: "A regional approach to zoning is important, but so are local concerns. These interests are not mutually exclusive. I am looking forward to working on the council to strike a balance between them."