To the Editor:
Plato once said that the written word was prone to misinterpretation. I suppose that could be true in general, but some documents of law appear to be quite clear. As I read N.Y.S. Law 272A regarding the intent of Comprehensive Plans, such as Elizabethtown and Lewis are considering, it seems quite clear what they are intended to do. This may put you to sleep, but it‘s important for everyone to understand what is happening here and not take it lightly.
Law 272A defines a town Comprehensive Plan as the means to provide for the “ immediate and long range protection, enhancement, growth and development of the town located OUTSIDE the limits of any incorporated village or city.” Land use regulation is the method used to accomplish this.
Law 272A states that “land use regulation means an ordinance or local law enacted by the town for the regulation of any aspect of land use and community resource protection and includes any zoning, subdivision, special use permit, or site plan regulation, or any other regulation which prescribes the appropriate use of property.” The “appropriate use” of your property.
It’s important to note that “zoning“ is only one of several methods used to regulate, and therefore control your property.
It’s also important to understand that an “ordinance“ is municipal law.
Law 272A does not require a town to adopt a Comprehensive Plan, but if they do, section 11 (a) states that “all town land use regulations must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to this section.” The State requires a Plan to be implemented.
Since the target area is OUTSIDE the community centers, that is where the land use regulation will eventually occur.
It’s being said that E’town has had a Comprehensive Plan since 1977. This is not accurate. What E’town has is a Land Use Local Law, pertaining only to the Hamlet. This meets the requirement of “Comprehensiveness“ by NYS standards. The State standards are met because of the existence of the APA, which has some authority to regulate land use outside the Hamlet, therefore between them create a Comprehensive Plan type structure, or “Comprehensiveness.” It’s stated as such in our Local Law.
Land Use Local Law, page 2, “ he segment not requiring zoning regulation is the Town of Elizabethtown OUTSIDE the village.” “The reason for the differing zoning requirements… is the existence of the APA Act.” “The APA Act provides a level of control in the unzoned area (town outside village) which is adequate and desirable to the town without the need for further local zoning involvement in that particular portion of town.”
But the APA wants more, and the adoption of a town wide “Smart Growth” Comprehensive Plan will help them.
Smart Growth/Hamlets 3 strategies apply to areas inside and OUTSIDE hamlets and are a road map towards land use regulation for both. Accepting these strategies will open the door for expanding the existing hamlet. The existing hamlet zoning will then apply to all property in the new larger hamlet.
The APA will want trade offs for allowing a new larger hamlet. This will almost certainly be more land use regulation Outside of the hamlet, since that is the target area of Comprehensive Plans.
It’s being said that there is lots of free grant money available for towns with Comprehensive Plans. That’s the carrot. But it’s not free money, it’s tax money which typically requires some matching local contribution. If grant money were ever available, which is far from certain, it should be available to E’town since we are currently in a condition of “ Comprehensiveness.”
Only 16 percent of E’town’s residents have been heard regarding this issue. Only seven people are interpreting that data and have reached a predetermined conclusion that we need more land use regulation. The Town Board needs to think about how the other 84 percent will react to the passage and implementation of a Comprehensive Plan, the core principle of which is to alter property rights for the “collective good.”
The environment in the Adirondacks is not suffering and we must be careful not to transfer our property rights to various environmental agencies.
We currently enjoy more property right protection than most realize through Local Home Rule authority. Protecting the property rights of our residents must be our highest priority. If you give them up, they will be gone forever.