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‘Anonymous’ letter and ‘misinformation’ alarm Lumberland residents

February 8, 2012

Tempers flared at the latest public hearing on the Town of Lumberland’s proposed zoning rewrite on February 6, where public comments were again received by the town board. While only nine individuals spoke, a large crowd packed the hall and repeatedly disrupted the process with outbursts.

Many appeared motivated to attend the session after receiving an anonymous letter last week that opened with the statement, “The Town of Lumberland wants to TAKE YOUR PROPERTY.” The letter includes a section titled “Socialism 101,” and warns residents that the proposed zoning will cause property values to plummet. Objections are also cited related to rules governing subdivisions and landscaping requirements.

In the letter, residents are encouraged to “object to this government intrusion into your home, your wallet and your property rights.” Some acted on that advice by shouting at the town board. Several admitted to not having read the proposed zoning yet.

In her opening remarks, town supervisor Nadia Rajsz mentioned the letter. “The letter contains inaccurate information, as those of you who have read the zoning would know,” she said. “Without a signature, there is no ownership of the statements, or accountability for the misinformation.

Therefore, I ask how valid can this information be?”
Local builder Charles Petersheim, who lives in the Town of Highland and owns property in the Town of Lumberland, stated from the audience, “Nadia, I wrote it.” In recent months, Petersheim has been a vocal critic of the zoning rewrite, and those associated with it.

As she did at the last public hearing in December 2011, Rajsz continued by reading all 24 comments submitted, as well as the zoning board’s responses, then opened the floor for public comment.

Kevin Malone, an architect and Goshen property owner, questioned “the appropriateness of conservation subdivisions in rural settings.” He said, “I believe the zoning was written with a light heart, but with perhaps a heavy hand. I would appreciate it if the conservation subdivision section could be revisited.”

Petersheim began by criticizing “Article 10 and the naïve home rule ideas that are getting towns sued.” He added, “This anti-gas drilling zealotry is not without consequence or harm to the town. With a gas pipeline running the length of the town, Lumberland would be a perfect place for gas drilling, but not one acre has ever been leased, because there is no viably extractable gas in Lumberland.”