Matter to be addressed at Planning Board session
By Allison Deutschman
The Town of Porter Town Board held a work session prior to its monthly meeting on Monday. The public comments section was moved to the end of the open meeting, similar to last month, and most of the scheduled agenda items were covered quickly.
But, unlike many of the previous Town Board meetings held over the past 18 months, the Mike McCabe property issue on Lake Road was not listed on this month's agenda.
McCabe, a former town councilman, has been the focus of long-term neighborhood opposition over alleged commercial/industrial activity on his property, which is set in a rural residential district. Neighbors William and Frederick Dean contend the town has not addressed their concerns over McCabe's activities, which are alleged to include sandblasting and painting of commercial vehicles.
McCabe has a limited town permit authorizing for service and sales of small lawn equipment on his property.
The matter has been a topic of discussion at previous Porter planning, zoning, and Town Board sessions. It is now before the courts in a suit against the town filed by the Deans.
At the May 9 Town Board meeting, discussion involved having attorney Kyle Andrews, the town's special legal counsel, who has been handling its interests with McCabe, attend future meetings when the McCabe issue is on the agenda.
Porter Town Attorney Michael Dowd recused himself on the McCabe matter, citing business conflicts.
On Monday, the Town Board said its intention in having Andrews present at future meetings was so that the public could have answers to questions board members previously declined to discuss.
The McCabe matter was not included in the June 13 agenda, as Andrews was not in attendance for the meeting.
"The reason we didn't put that location on Lake Road on the agenda is because the Planning Board is going to talk about that later this month," Town of Porter Supervisor Mert Wiepert said. "We put it (McCabe) on the agenda every meeting and cover the same territory over and over again."
The Planning Board meeting Wiepert mentioned is a special session to be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 20, at Town Hall.
Wiepert's comments came in response to Fredricka Dean's inquiry on how a resident could get an item on the Town Board agenda.
Dean submitted a letter requesting the McCabe matter be included. She also outlined a host of frustrations involving McCabe she and her husband, William, have had to contend with over the past 18 months.
To the dismay of the Deans, they learned public participation is not permitted at Planning Board meetings, unless they are public hearings.
"My only point in writing that letter to you requesting that the McCabe issue be put on the agenda was that we can't get answers from you when the attorney is not there, and then you say I'm not going to ask the attorney unless it's on the agenda," Fredricka Dean said.
"He's $150 an hour," Wiepert said.
"He's supposed to be at that next meeting, because that is the appropriate venue, since that is the decision-making time," Councilman Joe Fleckenstein said.
Wiepert suggested the Deans put together a list of questions for Andrews so that he can present them at the June 20 Planning Board meeting.
"This is my third term on this board and this has become a bigger issue ... the biggest issue we have had since I have been on this board, since CWM," Councilman Tom Baia said. "I sit home at night just thinking about this."
"That's good," Fredricka Dean said. "Because I don't sleep at night thinking about it."
The next Town of Porter Town Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 11.