July 23, 2010
Dryden split on zoning revisions
Residents at public hearing divided over intent, impact of proposed regulations
DRYDEN — Stronger zoning laws will inhibit landowners’ freedom to use their land, preserve the town’s rural character from too much development and offer clarity to people confused about where businesses can be located.
Those were the opinions voiced Thursday at a town Planning Board public hearing about revisions to Dryden’s zoning laws.
About 70 people attended, split evenly between those who favored letting landowners do what they wish and those who said the town would become a tangle of housing developments and businesses that would ruin its natural resources without the revisions.
Several hamlet of Varna residents said they want a clearer definition of what can be built along Route 366, especially at the Mont Pleasant Road intersection.
The revisions include new wording that allows the Planning Board more power to stop development in conservation district areas and encourage businesses that are “local service nature” — not a national chain, for example.
The conservation district plan would structure subdivisions within the district so houses are clustered and have smaller lots, leaving most of a land parcel in its natural state, instead of dividing the parcel into large lots and using most of it for residents.
The revisions also create a new district just for Varna, called a Hamlet District. The town has two hamlets, Varna and Etna, and two villages, Dryden and Freeville.
Project Manager Michael Welti of Behan Planning and Design and town Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski said the plan will allow a compromise among different interests.
Developer Bruno Schickel said it was a step in the right direction but still needed work. He said the plan will require the town to add staff and give more work to volunteer boards such as the Planning Board.
The Planning Board has been hearing public input for several months about how the revisions to existing law should define different districts and how land parcels on them can be used for homes and businesses.
The Planning Board will recommend revisions to the Town Board on July 29. The Town Board will then discuss them at its August meeting and consider them for what Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner said could be five or six months.
Town resident Tim Foote said he owns 82 acres and thinks he should be able to break off a lot for one of his children to live on, if he wants to, without going through the Planning Board. He said the law would make land unaffordable for low-income or young families.
Hilary Lambert said developers run the town, asked how the law would protect water resources and said, “That’s a different aspect than people griping about their so-called freedoms.” Several people applauded.
“I’m not a developer,” one man answered, “and I think our freedoms are being imposed on. This is America, and you can try to dictate but it’s my land and nobody can tell me what do with it.”
His comment drew loud applause.
Jim Crawford said the zoning revisions were pushing residents toward conflict and the plan was hard to understand in some places. He said the process seemed rushed.
Sumner said the process has taken two years and needs to be finished. She said not every resident would feel comfortable with the result.
“Zoning reduces conflict,” she said.
“The board should devote themselves to helping Varna and let the rest of the town keep absorbing this plan,” Crawford said, to more applause.
Resident Henry Kramer said his deed does not list the town as a co-owner, yet he will have to ask the town whenever he wants to do anything with his land.
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