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‘Anonymous’ letter and ‘misinformation’ alarm Lumberland residents

February 13, 2012

[UPDATED on February 14]: The Town of Lumberland Zoning Rewrite Committee will hold a Public Informational Meeting on Saturday, February 25 at 10 a.m. at the Town Hall in Glen Spey, NY for the review and clarification of the proposed amended zoning laws and for any public comment].

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.”

Mr. Petersheim

is complaining loudly, and now, publicly, which is a good thing, whether right or wrong, about the zoning issues.

Viewing this dialog in TRR, I disagree wholeheartedly with his implied characterizations of the coverage by TRR, of the shale gas extraction issue, and suggest that his views on that subject, discolor his believability in relation to his beliefs on zoning.

TRR's coverage of the shale gas extraction issues has been exemplary, in my opinion, given the limited resources it has at its disposal. The Paper keeps its eyes and ears open to developments on both the national level, and local multi-state level.

The pro-drill people in our area seem to not like it one bit, when "bad news" about HVSWMSHF is reported. This type of reportage has been to TRR's brave credit, especially in our target zone area, where bully organizations such as NWPOA, and JLCNY, receive money, and support from those shale gas lobbying organizations I list below. In their world, the pro drillers prefer to only listen to Energy in Depth, Marcellus Shale Coalition, ANGA's, and Aubrey McClendon's propaganda. It is no wonder they think HVSWMSHF is such a rosy proposition.

If Mr. Petersheim does not like the bother he is presented with, in this comparatively transparent, and lengthy, process in Lumberland, NY, he should think about the recent debacle people in Damascus, PA went through as a result of that Township's supervisors short, dark, process, in which they changed existing zoning to better suit NWPOA's gas lease desires.

Of course, now, all the Townships across the entire Commonwealth of PA have been turned over to the gas extraction companies, with the shameful passage of HB 1950.

We are all in the middle of a nasty, long fight, and zoning is a major part of it. Say goodbye to our quality of life if such drilling were to happen, and let's say a few prayers over the grave of our lack of neighborliness, because that quaint notion has already been buried, even before the drill rigs arrive.

if you were there part 3

I didn't write the letter with the 'pedersheim' issue in it. That was a letter written to sandy from someone at the meeting who copied me on it - I just forwarded it so Sandy's article could be counter-balanced by other views from people in the room.

People are really waking up to manipulation of information. It's one thing to be biased and factually-challenged on the gas issues, where people are actually scared to death and maybe the ends justify the means. But to carry that same poor reporting (actually propaganda) onto other issues is just shameful.

The next postcard that goes out today doesn't have my name on it either. it represents the ideas and fears of lots of people. Sorry we haven't come up with a clever name for ourselves yet. This story has a long way to go - which is the last thing the Supervisor of Lumberland wanted or expected.

If you were there (part 2)

(letter from someone else who was there and flabbergasted at what was passing for journalism)


What are you up to?

You misinterpret the event and issues and create caricatures of the people involved that fit a clear bias. It is not reporting and puts into question all of the reporting at the newspaper -- including that on gas drilling.

The public in Lumberland spoke with facts and valid issues -- the supervisor rolled her eyes behind them and lied to their faces. This actually happened. The introduction of the 'anonymous' letter in the meeting by the Supervisor was a distraction intended to slander the contents and the letter writer rather than take it on at face value or ignore it altogether. Perhaps since you made it a focus, you would have done the service of reading the letter, reviewing the proposed code, and reporting the letter's claims. But I suppose headlining quotations of 'anonymity' and 'misinformation' serves your purposes better?

I genuinely worry about all the other towns you misinform -- because who is paying attention for them? Not every town has Charles Pedersheim to expose and take on its bullies. Because of your poor service, it is members of the public that are waking up, getting informed, and coming forward one by one -- I suppose that is the positive byproduct of bad reporting. But how is that helping your cause?"

a typo is no big deal

Fight the powers that be, Chuck!

Finally, a very interesting interaction.

My technical question is, why does Charles Petersheim enter his post name as Petersheim, then, refer to himself(?) as Pedersheim in the body of his letter? Is he actually the one who sent the unsigned letter? Does every town need only one of these guys/gals, as he suggests?

I'd say that every town needs a lot more, although they should not send anonymous letters, if he actually sent it.

What's going on here? Who are the "bullies" that Mr. PederPetersheim wrote that he is "taking on"?

I look forward to Sandy Long's response to the questions posed by Pedersheim, or Petersheim, whichever.

Also, perhaps Mr. Petersheim can confirm if he was the anonymous letter sender, and why he sent it anonymously in the first place, then, raised his hand at the meeting and identified himself, if he did.

What is one to make of all this?

If you were there..

Dear Sandy Long at The River Reporter,

I’m sure anyone in attendance at the Lumberland Zoning Meeting would have liked to see some of the topics below make the editorial cut of your article –
1. Why no mention that after 2 years and 4 public hearings, the town has yet to include one public comment into the zoning, besides obvious oversights and errors on their part? 9 months of comments, 0 adopted. So much for public participation.

2. Why was Nadia portrayed as a even-handed facilitator, when everyone saw her smirks, dismissive gestures, and rudeness while people were speaking? If you need to see the video, let me know.

3. Can you be more specific about when Nadia said “the proposed zoning is proactive and fluid and can be changed at any times. We won’t pass a law until all comments are addressed… and her door is always open’? I don’t remember her saying that, nor does our video seem to reflect it – I remember her reading and rejecting 25 public comments, talking about how long the process has been and how many opportunities the public has had, and smirking and being dismissive of the crowd in general (refer to video).

4. Kevin Malone, the ‘architect from Goshen’, is responsible for more new construction design work in Lumberland than anyone else, period, over the last 4 years.

5. The Comprehensive Plan is not some political football for the Town Board – it is a very broad document with broad goals. Many approaches to it could be seen to fit under the Comprehensive Plan.

6. Why did you mention that ‘several admitted they did not read the zoning?” You never seemed to care if any of the anti-gassers read Article 10 or the Zoning at the previous meetings. I bet it wouldn’t be a stretch to say most of the Town Board has yet to read it as well.

7. Why did you refer to the crowd’s reactions as ‘outbursts’? Never were the anti-gassers shouts, hoots, and bullying referred as ‘outbursts’. Many times they got credit for ‘thunderous applause.”

8. Why feature the words ‘misinformation’ in the headline, and then not speak about what exactly was ‘misinformed’ about the letter? I stand by every assertion in that letter.

9. Why no mention of the County Planning Commissioner recommending changing key parts of the conservation subdivision language?

Maybe next month’s headline should be “Dumb Uneducated Blue Collar People in Lumberland Not Minding Their Place”.

It was exhilarating to see the community come out in protest of this invasive and unnecessary zoning. Most of the people in that room never spoke in public before, and don’t typically attend meetings. This zoning strikes a fundamental chord with them.

Please circulate to other concerned citizens and landowners and business owners of Lumberland. Once again Lumberland teaches us a lesson – pay attention to the Comprehensive Plan because it can be used for devious and self-serving purposes in the wrong hands.

“Stop the Zoning” yard signs will be available tomorrow. Our goals for this zoning are no less than starting over.

I would encourage The River Reporter to give these Concerned Citizens the same respect that it showed for other groups involved in this zoning rewrite.

True portrait

An angry letter, filled with misinformation, and written anonymously, is not a surprise, in our area.

This is a perfect, parallel example, of the severe character deficit disorder that many members of landowner groups, such as NWPOA, and JLCNY, suffer.

If those people spoke out under their own names, instead of under false identities, they might actually make a contribution, write in a more civilized fashion, and build respect. In the past three and a half years of the venemous anonymous, a hole has been dug from which there may be no return. It's a pitiful situation, that has worn through the "social fabric".

In this case, according to the article, the town board seemed to handle the situation very well. Congratulations to the Board.