Tusten re-examines its zoning

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 4/19/22

TUSTEN, NY — Parking and the environment dominated comment at a public hearing on proposed changes to Tusten’s zoning law.

On April 12, Tusten held a public hearing to solicit comments …

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Tusten re-examines its zoning

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TUSTEN, NY — Parking and the environment dominated comment at a public hearing on proposed changes to Tusten’s zoning law.

On April 12, Tusten held a public hearing to solicit comments on its first local law of 2022. The law includes a plethora of changes to the town’s zoning law, touching areas including the size and makeup of its zoning districts, parking requirements and stormwater management. The draft law can be found on the town’s website at townoftusten.org.

The law includes work that the zoning committee has accomplished over the years, said Peter Manning, the town’s consultant who has advised that body on its work since 2015.

The law was also part of an ongoing process. While the town brought the law to a public hearing on April 12, the town board did not vote on it in the meeting that followed; the zoning committee was to take the public’s comments into consideration for future revisions.

Public comment at the hearing centered around parking and the environment.

Brendan Weiden took issue with clauses of the zoning changes that expanded the area of the town’s downtown business district, a zoning district that allows for the most intensive development, and that provided for waivers of the requirement that businesses have sufficient on-site parking for their customers. Those changes would increase demand for parking in the town before the town took any steps to increase parking supply, said Weiden, and he recommended that the town undertake a parking study and activate its stagnant parking committee.

Star Hesse agreed. “It appears that local law number one… is a flawed document, and certainly has many areas of extensive concern about parking and zoning issues that have not been addressed.”

In the meeting that followed the public hearing, the town board scheduled the first meeting of its parking committee for later in the month.

Several participants also raised concerns that the law did not do enough to protect the town’s natural environment.

Speaking on behalf of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), resource specialist Kerry Engelhardt expressed a concern that the proposed zoning map included only two out of four pre-existing overlay districts, omitting the Upper Delaware River and the wellhead overlay districts. Without the first of these districts, Engelhardt was concerned that projects would believe themselves to be in compliance without understanding they also needed to meet the UDC’s River Management Plan.

Longtime UDC representative Susan Sullivan expressed admiration for the zoning law’s tightening of its steep-slope requirements, but said that its approach to logging should be tightened up further. Development and logging on steep slopes heightens chances of soil erosion if not properly managed.

Sullivan noted as well that “commercial” had been included as a principal permitted use in multiple districts, including the scenic river district. “The commercial in that district is not the intent of the River Management Plan, and by putting it there, you put yourself in direct opposition to the outstanding remarkable values [of the river] which the [National] Park Service is dedicated to preserving.”

At the close of the meeting, Jane Luchsinger, chair of the zoning committee and town board member, expressed her appreciation for the turnout at the public hearing. “This is government process at its best.”

Little Lake Erie

At the town board meeting that followed the public hearing, board members discussed an ongoing project to replace a deteriorating culvert on Tusten’s Little Lake Erie, at the intersection of lower Main St. and Erie Ave.

The project went out for bid some months earlier, and one bid was received. That bid came in at 210 percent of the town’s estimate for the project.

Board members discussed a number of potential reasons for the overbid, including the bid being sent out late in the year, the contractor not being as familiar with that type of work, and the town’s remote location. The board agreed to put the project back out to bid later in the year.

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