Ethics of Shandaken officials challenged

By Jay Braman Jr.
The May meeting of the Shandaken Town Board ended with a heated discussion about the ethics of some town officials, some named and others not identified, when a Phoenicia resident complained about what he said was the uneven way town laws are enforced.
Chris Fisher, who lives on Main Street nearby the former Al’s Restaurant, came to the meeting asking how to go about requesting an ethics investigation because, he alleges, some building projects, like the one now underway on Al’s, are paid little attention, while others, like the controversial farm stand in Mount Tremper (see related article) fall victim to overwhelming scrutiny.
Fisher said that his problem was not with Mike Ricciardella, the eatery’s current owner who is now renovating the structure, but with the town officials that authorized the renovation.

Doesn’t meet codes
Fisher says the structure is being expanded beyond what the law allows.
“Either enforce the law or don’t enforce the law,” he said. “It’s got to be equal across the board.”
Blaming the town’s planning board for granting permission for the project, Fisher asked how to go about requesting an ethics investigation. When he was told to bring the matter to Supervisor Rob Stanley, who was absent from the meeting, Fisher said that Stanley “was part of the problem.”

No earlier questions
It was noted by audience member Robert Kalb that Fisher was in attendance at the public hearing for Ricciardella’s renovation project and did not make any complaints despite being asked to do so.
On Monday night, Fisher said that new information about the project had come to light after the hearing.
Town Building Inspector Al Frisenda, the man responsible for issuing building permits, told the town board that if Fisher has a problem with any action of the planning board, his only recourse is to sue the town.
But Fisher said he does not want to sue the town. “My issue is the unethical behavior,” he said.

Legal recourse
The following morning, Supervisor Stanley said that he had no involvement in any planning board or building department actions nor did any other member of the town board.
He also said he had been made aware that, at the Monday night meeting, Fisher publicly described him as “crooked,” and that he will now look into taking legal action against Fisher for what he said is a slanderous remark.