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Madison County: Workshop can count toward state-mandated board training hours

Members of planning boards and zoning boards of appeal may earn credit toward their annual training requirements by attending the Eagle Newspapers-coordinated "Madison County: Open It Up!" workshop planned for April 5.

A statute that took effect Jan. 1 requires members of planning boards, zoning boards of appeals and county planning boards to complete four hours of training each year.

"Planning board and zoning board of appeals members make decisions of major importance to their communities and to all New Yorkers," reads a press release on the state Department of State's web site. "These decisions can affect the function and appearance of communities for decades to come while impacting property interests important to individual New Yorkers."

People who are appointed as alternates to village, town, city and county planning boards and ZBAs also must receive training. County staff acting as the county's planning agency of record are not included under the law.

According to the DOS, the governing body of each municipality determines what courses, training providers and course formats are acceptable and relevant to its community.

"Governing boards are encouraged to pass resolutions approving training from trusted providers," the DOS web site reads.

Representatives of state agencies, such as the state Committee on Open Government's Executive Director Robert Freeman, who will speak at the April 5 event, are among preferred providers. Freeman will provide information on the state's Open Meetings Law and state and federal Freedom of Information laws.

Despite the fact they are not elected officials, members of planning and zoning boards of appeals are required to conduct business in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.

The seminar is free and open to the public, but space is limited and reservations are required. The workshop begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Rusty Rail Party House in Canastota.

Light refreshments will be served.

Attendees are encouraged to bring questions they would like to have answered; index cards for questions will be provided at the door.

For more information about mandatory training for city, town, village and county planning boards and zoning boards of appeals, visit dos.state.ny.us/lgss/mandatorytraining.htm. To make a reservation to attend "Madison County: Open It Up!," call 697-7142 or e-mail madison@cnylink.com.

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