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Erie town board may remove planning chair, vice chair

ERIE — Citing unprofessional conduct and nonattendance to duty, the Erie mayor pro tem will attempt to remove the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Erie Planning Commission.

The mayor pro tem, Sara Loflin, who will chair Tuesday night’s Erie Town Board meeting in the absence of the mayor, wrote to the board that she felt the situation was urgent enough to warrant discussion and potential action this week. 

In her emailed memo, she wrote that Planning Commission chairperson Kelly Zuniga and vice chair Jim Luthi have been hostile toward staff “in a way that has cost the town numerous staff members.” She said the “toxic environment” has cost the town planning commission members, too.

She alleged that when the two don’t like an item on the agenda, they refuse to attend, “resulting in unnecessary delays and expense to reschedule and properly notice the meetings.”

They’ve acted beyond their authority on behalf of the town, putting the town at risk, she said. She also said they have misrepresented and spread misinformation about staff and the town board. 

She said she would cite specific examples at the board meeting Tuesday.

Town attorney Kendra Carberry with the law firm Hoffmann Parker Wilson & Carberry PC sent letters to the two planning commission members informing them of the effort to have them removed “pursuant to Section 3-1-1(C) of the Erie Municipal Code.” The letter to Luthi lists two reasons — nonattendance to duty and unprofessional treatment of staff. The letter to Zuniga lists four reasons, the previous two plus “misunderstanding your role as planning commissioner as demonstrated by your attempts to direct town staff,” and “making inaccurate public statements about the town’s planning process.”

Both were told that they would be able to speak to the board if they chose.

Emails sent to Loflin and Luthi were not returned. An email sent to Zuniga was blocked.

Source: BizWest