By Nathan Mayberg
SOUTH FALLSBURG September 30, 2005 In response to a large amount of negative feedback at recent public hearings regarding several large developments, the Town of Fallsburg Board appointed nine community members to a comprehensive plan review committee which will assess the towns master plan and advise changes.
The first target will likely be the zoning code, which currently allows ten mobile home and bungalow colony units per acre. The board and the community appear unified on changing that aspect of the law.
There are other differences amongst the community. Many local residents would like to put an end to bungalows and mobile homes altogether. But others believe those types of units have helped Fallsburg through some hard times.
Most of the committee members chosen by the board have some experience with building, according to information provided by Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steven Levine. They were picked out of 25 applicants.
The committee consists of:
Kenneth Demars: One of the leading opponents of bungalow colonies, mobile homes, and who once supported a building moratorium. Demars once built houses himself.
Kalman Freidus: Religious Realtor
Victor McCarthy: Vending business owner
Tim Pantel: Electrician
Steve Proyect: Former Town of Fallsburg Building Inspector
Bruce Sabinsky: Excavation contractor
Ken Schmitt: Businessman who owns many properties, particularly in Mountaindale
Kim Sutton: A development-friendly planning board member whose husband is a contractor.
Eugene Walkowiak: A pro-development member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and retired engineer
Town Councilman Joseph Perrello took umbrage with the appointment of the ZBA and planning board members. He said the officials should only advise the committee.
Perrello said he agreed that the zoning code should be updated but that the average building, including commercial and seasonal, should not be stopped. Perrello, who has been behind development projects himself, said aesthetically pleasing homes should be built, instead of glorified bungalows.
Before the board approved the resolution, there was another public hearing with a packed audience at the Town of Fallsburg Hall. Demars said he doesnt want to stop all building, just condominiums, mobile homes and bungalows.
He said such development drives neighboring home prices down.
Were watching the last [generation of bungalows] go down, and were building the next, he lamented.
Demars said he wouldnt want to stop commercial development, old approvals or new approvals for subdivisions of less than 10 homes.
Levine said he and the board support changing the zoning to limit the construction of mobile homes and bungalows to two units per acre.
One local resident said her community had been destroyed by the recent development of a mobile home park, where they were built on top of each other. All of the trees were cut down too, she said.
The woman also complained about ATV traffic on the Rails to Trails section between Pleasant Valley Road and Westwood Drive. Levine said that particular section was privately owned and not under the towns control.
Local attorney Mark Sherman questioned whether the new committees meetings would be made public. Perrello initially objected, stating that the publics input would interfere with the groups work. However, assistant town attorney Ron Hiatt advised that the meetings be made public, although the public wont necessarily be able to participate. Their first meeting will be October 10 at the town hall.
New Town Offices
The town recently purchased Provident Bank, formerly HSBC Bank in South Fallsburg. The building will be used by the towns building department and assessors office.
The two departments previously were working across the street from the town hall. Levine said the rent became too high. The buildings owners, HIRE Realty (which includes resident Harold Gold), were raising the rent to $1,800 a month next year, said the supervisor. The bank will require $50,000 in renovations, explained Levine.
In other business, the board approved an increase in water and inspection fees for new hook-ups at the rate of $50 each for single-family residential units and $100 for commercial. Thats double the current rate.