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Highland adopts new zoning law

ELDRED, NY — Three years and four drafts after the process began, the Highland Town Board adopted a new zoning law at their recessed and reconvened March meeting on March 26. Supervisor D.J. “Jeff” Haas, thanked all who worked on the draft, highlighting councilmen Fred Bosch, Jim Hanson and former Councilman Scott Hallock.

The vote was 3-0-1, with councilmen Bosch and Jim Gutekunst supporting adoption. Hanson abstained. He said the document was “very good, not perfect… basically a pretty good document,” but he took no position on its adoption. He and Bosch agreed that the law needs to be updated more frequently.

 Councilwoman Kaitlin (Mrs. Jeffrey Haas) Haas was absent having given birth to the couple’s first child, Callan James Haas, on March 21.

Supervisor Haas said the board “did a lot of things, we moved things around, made it more user-friendly,” including new language for mother-daughter homes, storage buildings and containers and new language for solar and wind energy, “to keep our green spaces green.”

Following an earlier review for compliance with the Land and Water Use Guidelines (LWUG) of the river management plan, the Upper Delaware Council’s Project Review Committee found the town’s draft to be non-complaint with more than half the required 22 elements for compliance.

Meeting on the same evening as the town board, the UDC committee directed that a new compliance review be undertaken should the town pass the zoning. According to a UDC statement, “the March 18 draft is still expected to be out of substantial conformance given the lack of a River Overlay District and other issues.”

As reported earlier, Supervisor Haas rejected the UDC review saying it was confused. “We didn’t change any of the zoning districts. We never had an overlay district, and we’ve been in compliance for 28 years.”

In a 10-page, point-by-point response to the February 26 UDC review, the town’s consultants wrote that, “In conference with the Town, Laberge Group maintains that the Town of Highland’s proposed zoning law is in greater conformance with LWUG objectives than the Town’s current law in effect, and in many cases regulations have been strengthened to be more restrictive than guidelines promoted by the UDC.”

A UDC member town or township found to be out of compliance would be required to submit all land-use decisions in the river corridor for National Park Service review. No UDC member town, once in compliance, has ever subsequently lost it. Buckingham and Manchester townships in Wayne County were included in the original legislation, but have never adopted zoning or participated in the UDC.

In other business, a notice was read from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding the Eldred Preserve’s application for an outfall of treated septic (SPEDES) permit, which stated that the public comment period (originally scheduled to end March 29) has been extended “to a deadline of April 12.

“This will allow the Department one week to evaluate any additional comments received on the application prior to making a determination on the need for a public hearing… In this particular case, the date to determine if a public hearing is necessary is April 22 and the deadline for a decision on permit issuance is May 22.”

Resident Nancy Esposito had several questions for which officials had no answers. Esposito wanted to know if base-line water quality testing has or will be done before any permit is issued; if the system was just for the new resort or would it service new homes said to be planned in conjunction with the resort; and what happens when those new houses are built?


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