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Outburst enlivens board meeting

During Orchard Park's reorganization meeting Wednesday, Supervisor Janis A. Colarusso read polite remarks on her view of various aspects of town government.

But that's not what will be remembered from the Town Board's first meeting of 2011. That's because the supervisor lost her temper with residents who questioned the board.

"I'm getting tired of getting slammed at, criticized, that I don't have any feelings for this town and the residents in this town," Colarusso said during Wednesday's regular meeting.

The board had just rejected Walmart's most recent environmental report as incomplete, and the public comment session had just ended.

Many of the board's frequent critics stood to praise board members, while reiterating their opposition to the proposed Walmart off Milestrip Road.

The board also had announced Wednesday that it would eliminate one regular meeting per month and replace it with a work session. The regular meetings, which allow public comment, will be conducted on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Work sessions, where the public can observe but not comment, will be held on the other Wednesdays.

That didn't sit well with Howie Holmes of Freeman Road.

"I don't know who came up with the brilliant idea of only one meeting here," he said. "We want you here twice a month, and we want you in front of us, and we want to be able to talk to you, and we want to be able to hear you, and we want to be able to look in your eyes."

"Howie, you want public comment? You run, you run this board, and you sit up here," Colarusso snapped. "I don't want to hear about how I'm doing it wrong. You run."

She said anyone who wants to talk to her between meetings can call her.

Louis L. Boehm, a Lake Avenue resident who often reads anti-Walmart statements at board meetings, accused the board of surreptitiously rezoning the Walmart property to commercial and suggested the board rezone it back to industrial.

"Don't you think we, as your representatives, are trying our best with what we are left with?" Colarusso asked Boehm.

"I think you're trying to do a good public relations job," he replied.

The supervisor later said she did not want to hear redundant issues, that "we all know how you feel" about Walmart.

Colarusso also said rezoning the area is off the table, but she wants to make sure that if Walmart does go in, that it's the best project possible.

"I can't do anything more!" she shouted, pounding the desk as she said each word. "And if this keeps going, I won't have public comment. And if you want to change it, you run for election, and you come up here, and you do what you want to do."

Also Wednesday, the board had scheduled a work session at 5:30 p.m. to review the organizational meeting and appointments, although the Open Meetings Law allows for a private session to discuss appointments, not routine agenda items.

Four board members went into executive session about 5:15. The highway superintendent, town clerk and Councilman Edward Graber arrived several minutes before 5:30, expecting the meeting to start on the half-hour. The supervisor said the meeting started early becausthe board had items to review behind closed doors.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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