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December 09, 2016
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Liberty to move zoning back three decades; Board members likely to reverse earlier decision

The former Stevensville Hotel in Swan Lake is one property that will have its zoning changed when the Town of Liberty board moves to repeal the zoning adopted in 2011.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

There was quite a bit of discussion about whether it would be better to mix the two zoning maps because the new maps had some clear advantages over the old one. For instance, the new zones incorporate the principles of development encouraging more density in and near the hamlets, where there is some infrastructure, with density lessening out toward more rural zones, where there is little infrastructure. Also, the new zones span entire parcels, whereas before, some parcels were divided with part of single parcel located in one zone and part of the same parcel in another.

Several speakers reiterated that one of the town’s most important goals was to increase the tax base, which may have been related to the fact that several summer camps in the town, which pay no taxes, used to be special uses but since the zoning change have become non-conforming uses.

Greg Woods, a member of the zoning review committee, said the town appeared to be unfriendly to non-conforming uses. He specifically mentioned Upper Ferndale Road, though even if the town does revert to 1987 zoning that would not change the status of the camps on that road which has been residential since then.

It was noted that one camp on the road has received 22 permits for expansion projects since 2000, and thus the actions of town officials could not reasonably be considered to be “unfriendly.”

Barbuti, the owner of a furniture store in Liberty who arranged to have the staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up shop in his store in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, invited the owners of several summer camps to previous meetings of the Zoning Review Committee, but has not yet invited property owners of the surrounding homes.