In a surprise vote, the West New York Zoning Board of Adjustment recommended to remove two members at last night’s meeting as the result of repeated absences cited by Chairman Kenneth Blane.
At the tail end of the meeting after Blane was reappointed chair and Alberto Chapin was again named vice chair, the retired attorney introduced a resolution to remove Steven Rodas, a former board of education trustee, and Daniel Roque.
“My resolution is to remove Board members Daniel Roque and Steven Rodas and the reasons are as follows, regarding Daniel Roque: for the year of 2018, he was absent for 13 of 19 meetings and arrived 25 minutes late for a 14th meeting and gave no sufficient reasons of illness or excuse for those 13-and-a-half absences,” Blane said.
In a similar vein, the chair stated that Rodas was absent for seven of 19 meetings in 2018, arrived 20 minutes late for an 8th meeting, 15 minutes late for a 9th meeting, left at 8:10 p.m. for a 10th meeting, arrived 25 minutes late and left at 8:30 p.m. for an 11th meeting, and regularly failed to respond to Board Secretary Natalia Novas regarding his meeting attendance.
The resolution was split into a separate vote for each ZBA member, with each passing by a tally of 5-1.
Rodas voted no on both resolutions, with Blane, Chapin, Katherine Chao, Michael Calderera and Oscar Guerrero voting yes on each measure.
Following those two votes, Blane clarified that the board of commissioners would have the final say as to whether or not Rodas and/or Roque would stay on the ZBA and that each member would have the opportunity for a hearing.
He further stated that in the event they opt not to have a hearing, the commissioners will vote on whether or not to remove Rodas and Roque, and in the event those measures passes, the board will likely name their replacements as well.
“If you don’t want to have a hearing, then they vote to remove you and hopefully replace two board members who are responsible members of the board … that’s all that we’re looking for,” Blane told Rodas.
“We want somebody who can do better,” Blane quipped after Rodas indicated he had done his best to be responsive in recent months.
“You said I was absent for eight meetings or so, right? I’m pretty sure that there are other board members who are sitting here right now who have missed eight meetings,” Rodas said.
“Oh, that’s not true,” Blane answered.
Rodas also said that he thought a ZBA member was only eligible for removal if they missed four meetings in a row, but Blane responded that the bylaws indicate that anyone can be removed for behavior that is “detrimental to the board.”
Speaking to HCV, Rodas said this was a clear example of local elected leaders exerting their influence and playing politics.
“This is all the commissioners wanting to put their people on the zoning board: they’ve sold out their town to developers to their own greed,” he exclaimed.
“Kenneth Blane has been on the board for over 10 years and the same people that voted for me to be chairman voted against him at the last reorganization that we had. I don’t take this personally because people are complaining about development over the past 10 years and when you look at whose been there – Congressman Sires and the board of commissioners – they need to take responsibility for the development in this town.”
Rodas served as chair of the ZBA for about 13 months between 2017 and 2018 and he claimed that was the most recent reorganization of the board in the past eight years.
The next meeting of the West New York Board of Commissioners is scheduled for January 16th at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, located at 428 60th St.