Ghent officials side with Art Omi over planning board
Aliya Schneider is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media tensions that arose between Art Omi and the Ghent Planning Board over a proposed expansion has now entangled other town officials. Art Omi, located on County Route 22 in Ghent, is a sculpture and architecture park with residency programs for international artists, writers, dancers, musicians and architects. The organization in March withdrew its application to expand the Charles B. Benenson Visitors Center, citing a lack of support from the planning board despite community backing for the project. Art Omi could not come to an agreement with the planning board on the number of visitors and traffic levels. Art Omi, Inc., Chairman Francis Greenburger said the application was withdrawn because the organization became discouraged by the planning board’s lack of concern for the organization's needs and conditions were not clear during the process. Planning board member Dan Barufaldi, who called himself an Omi supporter and donor, said the organization's executive director agreed to all of the board’s recommendations. “The Ghent Planning Board has no desire to limit your growth,” he said. “We simply need a check-in point at which we can determine whether it has a negative impact on the residential rural community.” He encouraged the art organization to return to talks with the board. Art Omi Executive Director Ruth Adams said her experience with the planning board was difficult, confusing and overwhelming, and probably did not need to be. The town board voiced its support for the expansion proposal, but there was no indication of next steps. “We’re grateful to be in Ghent,” Adams said. “Ghent has been very good to us. We’re still here and thank you.” Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.