Highland zoning still a work in progress
ELDRED, NY — After almost three years of work, an earlier draft and a 2017 public hearing, Highland Supervisor Jeff Haas opened the February 25 hearing on the town’s new draft zoning law, admitting that “the document is not quite ready yet.”
The town received a time extension, from March 1 to April 1, on the deadline for a county grant acquired to fund completion of the work. “We understand that revisions need to be made,” he said.
Michael Davidoff, attorney for the town, said the town’s consultant, the Leberge Group, agreed to expedite changes in time for a planning board review on March 6.
Town clerk Doreen Hanson said a copy of the update would be available for review and those seeking an emailed copy should apply to her office.
Following some 45 minutes of discussion, Haas recessed the hearing until 6:30 on March 12, prior to the next regular town board meeting.
Apparently, many of the needed revisions will be related to a 22-page review document submitted by the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), which, according to the document, is tasked to “review the [member] towns’ relevant laws, plans, and ordinances to make recommendations regarding the substantial conformance with the Upper Delaware legislation, the River Management Plan, and the Land and Water Use Guidelines.”
The review is divided into six principles that include providing for maintenance of high river-water quality; the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of residents and visitors; and natural resources, recreational and other public uses, while protecting the river as a natural resource, the continuation of agricultural and forestry uses, conservation of river area resources, and maintaining existing patterns of land use and ownership.
Compliance details for the various principles fall in 22 underlying objectives. The January Highland draft did not score well, according to the review’s conclusions. “Upon completion of this comprehensive draft substantial conformance review of the Town of Highland’s 2019 draft zoning law, it was determined that at this time 14 out of the 22 objectives do not substantially conform to the Land and Water Use Guidelines.”
The UDC noted that the Highland River Overlay District (HROD) was “removed from the 2019 draft along with [all but four references to] the Delaware River and any zoning laws protecting it and its tributaries.” UDC recommended the district’s reinstatement “in order to assist many of the 22 aforementioned objectives which are currently non-conforming.”
Final determination of a UDC non-compliance finding and all other UDC reviews is made by the National Park Service (NPS). No member town, after having been in compliance, has ever then been ruled non-compliant. NPS directly reviews land-use actions in the Wayne County townships of Manchester and Buckingham, which have never joined UDC.
None of the above issues were discussed at the hearing. UDC Resource Specialist Peter Golod attended, but said he was there strictly for information-gathering purposes.
Resident Nancy Esposito asked whether the board would provide any further opportunity for a public dialog about the law (which Davidoff said it won’t) and Paul Burckard complimented the town on its efforts to add taxable properties to the town rolls.
Hanson read the public-hearing notice and review/approval statements from the town planning board and the Sullivan County Planning Department.
Kittatinny livery-campground owner Dave Jones, and Indian Head livery-campground general manager Amy Salvia read their own statements aloud.
Hanson said that, because of their length, none of the other five pieces of written correspondence received, which included the UDC review and Highland UDC delegate Andrew Boyar’s comments, were read aloud.
Davidoff said there is no legal requirement requiring the reading aloud of hearing comment correspondence.