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Rural land use issues fire up a crowd in Red Hook

Jan 21, 2011 11:00 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Route 9 north of the hamlet of Red Hook, as seen in a Wikepedia Hudson Valley portal site."][/caption]A land use battle in northern Dutchess County could prove a harbinger of coming fights for Columbia and Greene counties as local demographics, economics, and social trends continue changing in the Hudson Valley. A story in the Daily Freeman notes how critical townsfolk came out in force in Red Hook the evening of January 20 to suggest that proposed changes in zoning regulations could hurt village businesses, restrict what remains of local farming, encourage groundwater contamination and leave prime commercial properties out of appropriate zoning districts. The comments came from an audience of about 110 at a public hearing on the Centers and Greenspace plan that would add “Traditional Neighborhood” and “Agricultural Business” districts to the town's zoning law and revise development density requirements in existing zones. Bill Kemble reports that support for the changes came from Scenic Hudson planner Mark Wildonger, who said the zoning revisions would protect historic and agricultural areas. Land use issues, including everything from farm allowances to outdoor wood burning stoves and fire pits to the ways in which construction debris is gotten rid of, are increasingly volatile subjects of dissension between various sub-sects of the local community throughout our region in recent years.

“The Traditional Neighborhood Development district is very thorough in that the purpose and intent of the district is clearly stated, along with specific design standards, complete with illustrations, which should result in the type of development prescribed in the comprehensive plan,” he said.

Resident Linda Keeling, speaking for several people calling themselves Citizens Opposing Sewer Taxation, said extending commercial zones south of the village would reduce available farmland, and that a proposed sewer district would increase the potential for environmental damage. “The Intermunicipal Task Force ... failed to acknowledge or even consider the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation’s spill incident reports over the six years,” she said. “The have failed to heed the warnings of consultants and taxpayers who are sure the central sewer system will be an additional burden to taxpayers.”