The Weiden family has been part of the Tusten community since 1904, and we are the fourth generation to own the family farm outside the hamlet. Beginning with our 2015 acquisition of the former …
The Weiden family has been part of the Tusten community since 1904, and we are the fourth generation to own the family farm outside the hamlet. Beginning with our 2015 acquisition of the former Narrowsburg Central School, we have made a significant financial investment in Tusten as well as a significant investment of our personal talents and energies, all based on the assumption that Tusten abides by its zoning laws.
Although one may not think of it this way on an everyday basis, the interactions between applicants, planning boards, zoning boards of appeals and building departments involve these intangibles, crucial to a well-functioning community: duty, trust and respect.
When parties fulfill their duties to one another, they learn to trust in each other. And when their mutual trust is sustained over time, mutual respect takes root and thrives.
Applicants have the duty to their community to be law-abiding, transparent and honest about what they plan to do and how they plan to do it when they appear before the planning or zoning boards or seek approvals from the building department. They also have the duty to execute their plans in conformity with the approvals granted.
Boards and the building department have a duty to be law-abiding, fair, practical, independent and even-handed in their decision-making and enforcement, and in the case of zoning boards, also be wise in granting variances and deciding appeals.
When those mutual duties are not fulfilled by applicants and/or boards and/or the building department, our community suffers: we cannot trust one another and that priceless seed of mutual respect is never planted and therefore can never take root.
At this moment, an important question is before our community: does the Town of Tusten enforce its zoning laws?
It’s not a complicated question with a complicated answer. It is not a question that sometimes has the answer “Yes” and sometimes has the answer “No.” Tusten cannot choose to enforce its zoning code as to some property owners and not as to others. To selectively enforce is to create two classes of property owners without any basis in the law and to signal that duty is required of most, but not all.
A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is valuable because it does the following:
If Tusten does not enforce its zoning laws, we will all be penalized with higher borrowing and insurance costs, lower property values, a shrinking tax base and higher property taxes.
If Tusten does not uniformly enforce its zoning law, then the town is effectively bestowing economic benefits on select property owners and imposing economic burdens on the remainder.
Trust and respect can never flourish in such a capricious community.
To quote Robert G. Ingersoll, politician, orator, writer and admirer of Abraham Lincoln:
“Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test.”
Planning board members, zoning board of appeals members and code enforcement officer, what will you do with your power?
Brendan P. Weiden and Kathleen M. Weiden own the Narrowsburg Union.
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