After four years of work, debate and revision, an updated Ticonderoga zoning proposal has been scraped. Faced with withering criticism, the town board voted unanimously to kill the plan — at least for now — at its April meeting.
After four years of work, debate and revision, an updated Ticonderoga zoning proposal has been scraped.
Faced with withering criticism, the town board voted unanimously to kill the plan — at least for now — at its April meeting.
“It was so emotional; people were very angry,” Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney said of the debate. “It had to stop right then and there. We voted to table the issue.”
Actually, the board voted to kill the zoning proposal that had been in the works since 2009.
Resolution #121-2013, brought by Councilman Wayne Taylor and seconded by Trustee David Iuliano called on the board “to reject in total the entire new proposed Ticonderoga Land Use and Development Code including all the new proposed zoning map changes and keep the existing Town of Ticonderoga Zoning Ordinance with its accompanying Site Plan Review law intact.“
Taylor, Iuliano, Malaney, Trustee Jeff Cook and Trustee Steve Whitford voted for the resolution.
The meeting attracted about 100 people with more than 30 speaking on the proposed zoning law. Every speaker opposed it. Most of the opposition came from residents of Chilson and South Ti.
Malaney said much of the criticism came from misunderstandings and distortions.
“A few people worked very hard top arouse others,” Malaney said. “There were a lot of misconceptions about the new zoning, but things became so heated there was no point in going further. There was so much intensity, anger, fear.”
The existing Ticonderoga zoning law is 30 years old, Malaney said. It has been amended 20 times. In 2009 a residents committee, with the help of consultant Brandy Saxton of PlaceSense, began a complete review of the law.
The public was invited to participate throughout the process. There was a town-wide mailing in June 2010 to notify residents about the project and opportunities to have input on the changes being drafted. There were nine public information meetings and throughout the process drafts were posted online and available for review at the town office.
Malaney and Saxton agreed the proposed revised zoning plan would have had little affect on most people. The proposed zoning changes focused on three keys areas, according to Saxton — commercial property, downtown and lakefront properties.
The decision to kill the proposed zoning changes angered its supporters.
“Three years of development, tens of thousands of dollars, and hundreds of man hours revising our zoning was sidetracked — wasted — by a group of individuals, who I believe were misinformed, and by a town board that avoided their responsibility to the entire town,” said Jim Major, who chaired the town committee that reviewed the proposed zoning changes. “They (town board members) couldn’t shed their responsibility to us all any more quickly than they did. They didn’t shelve it, as some have said, they voted it down.
“I believe to a person, our committee which was delegated with the responsibility for recommending changes, are disappointed with the town board’s capricious action,” he continued. “We have stated over and over that the product can be altered by the town board as they see fit. To throw out an entire zoning plan, without any effort on their part to answer any grievances of a group of citizens, is disappointing to say the least. I don’t understand their unwillingness to support change, positive change, and make corrections that they feel are necessary.”
Major, who is also chairman of the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, said Ticonderoga is being held back by an out-dated zoning plan. He said the decision to kill the zoning proposal showed a lack of leadership by the town board.
“The poverty in this town is increasing, the unemployment is increasing, the drinking and family problems are increasing, without any plan, direction, or goals by our town leadership to make change happen, to solve problems, to offer hope,” he said. “The zoning plan would not solve these problems by itself, but it is a part of a plan to bring our zoning into the 21st century and to make our town more attractive to business.
“PRIDE has brought millions into this town in the form of grants,” Major continued. “The Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership brings business to this town and cleans up the downtown. The local artists volunteer their time to bring color to our lives. TRA (Ti Alliance) offers mentoring programs, education programs, ties to the college and curriculum changes. Other groups voluntarily donate their time and money. All without any expressed goals, cooperation or direction from our elected officials.”
Major said the town board is holding Ticonderoga back.
“Two years or so ago, the town board formed a citizen committee of volunteers to make recommendations on how to handle the crumbling building that houses our police department,” he said. “The building is unsafe and has the high probability of collapse with our employees inside, weapons and criminals inside, and the possibly of all being crushed. Well, the committee made recommendations and the town board ignored them, also. But the real sin is that they simply forgot about the problem. They are sending their employees into an unsafe building every day to work without a thought of the risk.
“My speculation is that collecting their pay, and getting re-elected, is the only goal that they have developed,” Major said. “Well at least, at this, they have been successful. So far. What a pity.”
Malaney said the zoning issue will have to be addressed at some point in the future.
“We’ll have to revisit it,” the supervisor said, “but not until people have a better understanding of zoning and more opportunity to have input on the future direction of Ticonderoga.
“The future of zoning is yet to be determined,” she said.