Master plan trumps zoning changes

By DAVID HULSE

GLEN SPEY, NY — An ongoing debate over proposed zoning changes that would define the nature of cluster housing in Lumberland has been put on the back burner until the town completes an update of its comprehensive plan.

As a new panel met for the first time on March 18 to begin work on the update, Supervisor John LiGreci said that the town board was to meet in a special March 30 session to adopt an open-ended moratorium on cluster development until the new master plan is completed.

Concerned that rural Lumberland astride Orange County’s western border could be caught unprepared to address developers seeking to build multiple-dwelling projects in town, LiGreci recently was pressing for new zoning definitions and controversial “bonus points” to allow greater density, while retaining greater areas of surrounding open space.

Planners argued that the density bonuses were inappropriately generous and that no actions should be taken until a new comprehensive plan defines where the growth should take place.

Planning board members, community residents, LiGreci and town board members Nadia Rajsz and Joe Carr began the process last week with Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner Dr. William Pammer and the town’s planner Tom Shepstone on hand to advise.

The process will involve a review of the town’s 1976 plan and an update to address Lumberland’s population, demographics, growth and construction patterns, highway usage, recreation facilities and other infrastructure.

At the outset, the panel agreed that frequent public informational meetings, surveys and other forms of outreach measures would be used to get maximum input in the work.

Pammer suggested that the panel carefully consider the county’s recent survey results, which reveal the comparative public costs in services for residential, commercial, agricultural and open space.

Shepstone noted that Sullivan County has an urban as well as a rural culture and that “it looks like the pace of change is going to accelerate in the not too distant future. The question is how to handle it.”

The panel scheduled its next meeting for 1:00 p.m. on April 29 and the public is invited to attend.