Who is Susan Roth and why is she wrong for Monroe?
So who is Susan Roth? With the discussions around Chapter 57 Zoning changes (Local Law #4), Monroe residents have raised concerns about the origins and reason for these zoning changes. That architect of this plan was revealed at Friday’s special town board meeting: Susan Roth.
Susan Roth is a local Democrat who recently came to some prominence in a failed attempt to run for the vacant Monroe Town Board seat in 2014. Roth was defeated in a primary vote by her opponent, Blanca Johnson, who is best known as the manager of the Round Lake paddle-boat concession and connected to Harley Doles. Even despite her loss in the primary, she maintained a hidden allegiance to Harley Doles and his faction of the town’s Democratic Committee.
A couple of key factors were giveaways in the zoning change planning, as well as her own connections.
The Harley Doles connection.
Susan Roth was rebuffed in her 2015 election attempt, and lost her seat on the Monroe Planning Board. Her planning board colleague, Mary Bingham, was also replaced by Elisa Tutini — the Dial-a-Bus manager and domestic partner of Councilman Dan Burke. Roth has been seen recently spending considerable time at the Doles’ home on Cedar Cliff Court, including and up to the day before an announced Friday afternoon meeting to discuss the plan. Based on her presence at that Friday meeting, it now appears that it was Susan Roth who drafted this very long, very confusing document.
The planning background.
Susan Roth’s personal business is civil planning, including work she has done for other municipalities. She has alternately listed by sources as the “Monroe Town Planner”, although there is no direct reference to her as an employee of Monroe on the Town website.
Her business website is rather inauspicious and short on specifics. While she credits the work of other members of the Monroe Planning Board, that statement has less backing than the proposed plan has from most citizens. In fact, former Planning Board Chair, Mary Bingham, had many objections over this plan in spite of Roth’s contrary statements.
Where both the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission have recommended a tree code, this plan is far longer. Changes that the original planning group had recommended were meaningful and succinct, completely opposite of the 100+ page plan recommended by Roth.
And the logic behind the zoning plan (Chapter 57) is baffling: On one hand, it permits residential hotels on 3 acre lots, but deny existing residents the ability to construct “Grandparent/in-law suites”. The latter adds to property values in the town, values which have been on the decline for the past 7 years. The high-density hotel portion of the plan threatens a larger decline in property values, further eroding the tax base.
As an experienced civil planner, Susan Roth would recommend changing Monroe zoning to high-density urban housing, but deny existing residents to ability to extend a property to include additional space. This website finds this logic puzzling. Questions posed during the Friday emergency meeting went unanswered by Ms. Roth, who appeared uninterested in offering explanations.
Susan Roth’s political leanings.
Susan Roth is a Democrat, and a member of the Monroe Democratic Committee. We know this because Ms. Roth has cast her votes repeatedly in alignment with the Doles/Burke/McQuade coalition on the committee. And Roth was the sole dissenting vote against the Committee withdrawing its endorsement of Dan Burke in the 2015 Town Council race. So she was careful to keep those allegiances hidden until needed. And now Harley Doles needs her.
If you like Harley Doles and Dan Burke, you’ll love Susan Roth. Had the outcome of the primary been different, the end result could still have been a Harley Doles rubber-stamp on the Town Board in 2014, despite their own lack of loyalty
Monroe needs updates to its long-range comprehensive plan. The town needs people with experience in civil and community planning. Not only is Local Law #4 — the Zoning Changes — not that plan, but we suggest that Ms. Roth’s efforts are misplaced. So are her loyalties. And her association with the sham of Comprehensive Plan she is architecting reflects poorly on her profession and business.
The saying of “being known by the company you keep” rings very true. The Town of Monroe cannot be simply another accomplishment to add to her resume. Especially if the character and structure of the town are damaged beyond repair. The changes in this plan are ill-advised, greatly flawed, and wrong for Monroe.
Which means they’re what we would expect from a coalition led by Harley Doles.
While we are happy that we now see Susan Roth’s true colors and loyalties, however misplaced, these are not the changes that will improve our town. In fact, they’ll likely do nothing more than line her own pockets with consulting fees. We expect that from Harley Doles. We don’t need it from more people advising our town.
Updates 12/23/2015: Additional cited links:
Responsible replies invited.