The Amherst Town Board has taken another step to rein in the town's development agency, voting, 4-3, this week to replace its chairman, Edward F. Stachura.
The decision to replace Stachura as head of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency capped a confusing series of votes at Tuesday's meeting and prompted a rare rebuke from Town Attorney E. Thomas Jones.
At one point, the board voted, 5-2, to appoint a candidate to the Zoning Board of Appeals only to immediately rescind the vote and appoint another candidate, Betty Croglio.
Asked to give a his opinion during the chaos, Jones scolded lawmakers, saying: "Your appointment process is horrible. Why don't you talk to each other?"
Jones pointed out that some candidates had attended the meeting expecting to be appointed but found themselves watching the Town Board quibble over who would make the best choice.
Even some board members agreed with Jones.
"It was worse than awful, it was a disgrace," Council Member Shelly Schratz said.
"It was horrible," Council Member William L. Kindel said.
Stachura became one of the first to be affected by a recent change in town policy intended to attract new volunteers and new energy to the development agency, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Under the policy, sitting board members will be limited to a five- or seven-year term, depending on the respective boards.
Town lawmakers have said they want to prevent veteran board members from gaining undue power by serving multiple terms on important policy-making boards.
Nevertheless, the policy also allows the Town Board to exercise more influence over boards that have demonstrated independence in the past.
At the Jan. 2 meeting, lawmakers voted, 4-3, to withhold action on naming Patrick J. Whalen to the IDA board, replacing Stachura, whose term had expired.
Whalen, a trade consultant for World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara and owner of a consulting firm, PJW Transition Services, was nominated by Schratz.
Schratz said she agreed to the delay because Town Board Member Deborah B. Bucki asked for more time to evaluate candidates to fill Stachura's seat.
But in a last-minute compromise, board members chose a new candidate nominated by Bucki, attorney Robert M. Ciesielski.
Some lawmakers said they knew Ciesielski as a member of the Sierra Club and the steering committee for Nature View Park, leaving critics to wonder what those credentials had to do with development. Some also complained that Ciesielski's resume was submitted just hours before the meeting.
Kindel said he admired Ciesielski, but he called Stachura "a quality person, a professional engineer who knows the workings of the IDA."
He also complained that there's "no reason to replace a person that's qualified merely because he's been on a board for seven years."