Highland bypasses ridgeline model

Councilman says plan is too vague

By LISA CUTRONI

ELDRED, NY — Without a vote in either direction, the Model Ridgeline Zoning Provisions have become a dead issue in Highland.

Councilman Donald Rupp motioned that the board avoid voting on the ridgeline zoning proposal during the February 14 regular town board meeting.

“The ridgeline proposal is a deprivation of property rights. I feel it would be in the best interest of the town and this board to do nothing with the ridgeline whatsoever. And I would like to make that motion,” Rupp said.

Councilman Robert Burrow seconded the motion, citing vagueness as the reason and calling for additional work to be done before he would cast a vote.

“The way that thing is written is so vague,” Burrow said, “…they describe the ridgeline as the top view as seen from various spots along the river valley. But, who says that is what it should be? You can’t enforce something like that. I object to any government agency putting a vice grip on the private landowner. If people are really concerned about the ridgeline and its development, they should get together and purchase it.”

Burrow recommended increased vigilance by the town planning board and code enforcement officer in approving building permits for the ridgeline area, saying that there were zoning regulations already in place.

The ridgeline zoning ordinance was officially presented to Highland on November 7, 2005 during a public hearing. The ordinance, designed by planning consultants Tom Shepstone and Carson Helfrich, was created to establish a set of guidelines for developing along the ridgeline. The funding was through Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) from the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

Shohola, PA, one of the four river towns instrumental in creating the ordinance, has approved the ridgeline zoning provisions, while Lumberland and Tusten are working toward a decision.

Another UDC grant, for cameras

Highland is applying for a $6,250 UDC grant to install surveillance cameras at both the stop light in Eldred at the Eldred Inn, and at the light at the four corners in Barryville.

The cameras would aid law enforcement in providing criminal evidence or in documenting traffic accidents.

“The Barryville intersection is the worst one; people don’t see the light and go right through to Shohola. It’s amazing; we’ve had quite a few accidents. If something did occur, it could be caught on camera,” Burrow said.

Had there been cameras set up, he added, maybe the constables would have more indicting evidence to go on with respect to recent burglaries in town.

While one surveillance camera has been donated to the town, its technology is dated.

The camera runs as a Video Home System (VHS), recording for a month before requiring tape changing. The problem with the system, Burrow said, is that it takes snapshots every few seconds, but not as a continuous stream.

For now, however, Burrow said the VHS system would suffice for one of the intersections, until the town finds the more than $30,000 needed for the new equipment.

“The town has the money. With the UDC grant, that would pay for half of a camera. We could probably get one unit fairly quickly. I talked to P & N security, who said it’s $15,000 a camera, but it’s all digitally recorded,” Burrow said.

“It’s kind of like big brother watching, but you’re not looking in anyone’s windows.”