WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. January 22, 2015 UPDATED January 26, 2015:
As first reported by WPCNR last Wednesday afternoon the city completed its intention to remove its Commissioner of Planning, Elizabeth Cheteny at a short terse meeting Thursday afternoon at 5 P.M.
The City Clerk noticed a Special Meeting of the Common Council Thursday morning to vote on a resolution to remove Elizabeth Cheteny as Commissioner of Planning. According to Section 20 of the City Charter, it takes a simple majority vote of 4 to 3 to remove or retain a Commissioner or Officer.
All seven members voted unanimously to support the removal.
Ms. Cheteny according to reliable sources was asked to resign Tuesday afternoon, and had been also reported by other city sources as considering whether to resign. She did not resign.
The Mayor’s Office did not respond Wednesday to WPCNR questions as to what Ms. Cheteny’s status was, or who would take over the Planning Commissioner position going forward, or whether there is going to be an Acting Commissioner appointed, or a national search conducted.
Ms. Cheteny was called at the Planning Department Wednesday and Thursday by WPCNR, and messages left with persons answering the phone taking messages requesting her to clarify her situation. She has not returned the calls
WPCNR received a telephone call saying I should refer all questions to the Mayor’s Office, which this reporter had done yesterday and no statement on the matter has been issued as of 11:20 A,M.
Ms. Cheteny, if she is removed will have been Commissioner of Planning for two years and three months since starting with the city in October, 2012. She was the first new hire appointed by Mayor Tom Roach.
At that thime, Ms. Cheteny had had broad experience in the field of planning. She has worked in the public and private sectors; for governments, not-for-profits and in academia. As a senior land use planner and economist with more than 25 years of experience, Ms. Cheteny has directed planning projects involving municipal and institutional comprehensive planning, zoning, environmental review, as well as historic, scenic, and open space preservation.
Ms. Cheteny spent the majority of her career (fifteen years and eight months, according to her resume), with the environmental consulting firm, AKRF, Inc., rising to the position of Vice President, before leaving for an academic position at the University of Buffalo in 2004.
AKRF is a firm White Plains has commissioned for years as environmental consultants. AKRF consulted extensively on the formulation of the closure plan, recently begun by the City of White Plains on the Gedney landfill.
For the last year and a month before her appointment Ms. Cheteny served as the Environmental Program Manager for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, at which she directed all aspects of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of a new clinical science center proposed for the campus.
Prior to the Roswell post, from April 2004 to June 2010, Ms. Cheteny served as Director of Planning for the Urban Design Project, a center in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo the State University of New York. She was also a Vice President at the environmental and planning firm, AKRF, working in their offices in New York City and Westchester County, and eventually, opening and managing their western New York office.
Ms. Cheteny has extensive government and not-for-profit experience as well. She is a former trustee in the Village of East Aurora, NY; she co-founded the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway; and is a board member of the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy and Western New York Land Conservancy. Several of her projects have received awards from the American Planning Association, including the Olmstead City – Buffalo Olmstead Park System: Plan for the 21st Century and the Niagara Falls Main Street Plan.
Ms. Cheteny has led economic revitalization studies for municipalities around the state. She has managed a number of environmental impact statements (EISs) for large-scale projects in the New York City metropolitan area, and conducted numerous socioeconomic and fiscal impact studies on development proposals, tourism-related projects, and recreational projects.
Mayor Roach when he brought her in said, “Betty Cheteny brings an extraordinary breadth of experience to the City’s Planning Department. Whether working with municipal governments, academic institutions, health care institutions or private sector clients, Ms. Cheteny has brought a thoughtful and informed approach to planning. Her collaborative nature has enabled her to work successfully with community organizations and other stakeholders on a wide variety of projects. I believe that Ms. Cheteny will build on the strengths of our Planning Department and help White Plains continue to move forward in a dynamic, smart and progressive fashion.”
He has issued no statement on her present situation.