Maryland Planning Board Chair resigns

Oct. 4—Town of Maryland Planning Board Chairman Joel Fox resigned his position during the Oct. 3 Maryland Town Board meeting.

In a letter to the board, he said his resignation will be as of Oct. 11, the day after the next scheduled planning board meeting. He said, "I am resigning because I can no longer serve with a Town Board that is not impartial."

Fox said he did not attend Monday night's meeting as he was "treated so shabbily by the board" members at September's town board meeting. Fox said he has been a planning board member for about 12 years and was elected chairman after the previous one died. He said he was asked to resign by town board members.

The friction between town board and the planning board seems centered around an entertainment venue, built by town Supervisor Ronald Wheeler and his wife, Christine Alvarado, apparently in violation of zoning and without a building permit. Neighbors have complained about the enterprise.

During the meeting, fellow planning board member Eleanor Stromberg defended Fox and the board. In a statement obtained by The Daily Star, she said Fox has spent hours "contacting county officials and our own zoning officer, Paul Neske, and our town lawyer, Marvin Parshall. Mr. Fox has received numerous letters and phone calls on both sides of the issue from town residents and members of the county who do not even live in our town. He has been courteous, soft spoken, and respectful of others no matter what their view was. He has shown great patience when leading our meetings. He should be appreciated for all he has done."

In addition to overseeing the regularly-scheduled meeting, Fox presided at the special planning board meeting Oct. 4 to discuss a special use permit for the Yellow Rose Barn on Smokey Avenue.

During the Sept. 12, planning board meeting, members discussed the construction of the Yellow Rose Barn and a special use permit application submitted by Alvarado.

According to Otsego County Code Enforcement, the county has no record of any building permits being issued to the Yellow Rose and a "stop work" order was given to Wheeler and Alvarado.

During the Sept. 12, meeting Fox said, "A special use permit is usually issued for a business and in the zoning plan for the town of Maryland, any kind of business requires a special use permit. First I have to say, I wish this project was done differently and would have been less difficult if the applicants followed the normal procedure and applied for the required permits before construction, not after.

However, we can not take that into consideration, and our job is just to consider the special use permit on its merits and how it fits into the town zoning ordinances and the town's comprehensive plan."

During the town board meeting, Stromberg echoed Fox's comments, "I have served on the Planning Board for several years. We have handled many issues, property splits, lot line changes, and special use permits," she said. "Some required public hearings, and we listened to all the comments before making a decision. This is first time that I can recall that someone has come to us requesting a special use permit after they have built the project. It even states in our zoning regulations that it could take months to negotiate the process."

A message left for Wheeler at the Maryland town office was not returned before publication.

The result of the planning board's vote on the special permit was not known as of press time.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.