Dan Hust | Democrat
Callicoon resident Buck Moorhead has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the Town of Delaware’s proposed zoning rules, which may be approved this Wednesday. Here he’s shown at the July 10 town board meeting pointing to a map he colored to illustrate the differences between zoning districts. The orange areas represent the parcels where he’s concerned regulations will not be as transparent and forthright as elsewhere in the town. Town officials who crafted the plan disagree, saying the regulations are both clear and flexible.
Town, critics at loggerheads over scope
Story by Dan Hust
HORTONVILLE July 26, 2013 Delaware’s new zoning rules may be only days away from being enacted, despite a repeat of an ongoing debate at this month’s town board meeting.
Supervisor Ed Sykes said the law couldn’t be passed until Sullivan County’s Planning Division reviewed and signed off on the document.
That letter arrived this week, leading Sykes to set up a special town board meeting for Wednesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. at the town hall in Hortonville.
However, Acting Planning Commissioner Jill Weyer wrote in the letter that the county "feels that the proposed action may have adverse inter-community impacts." She made several recommendations, including one that echoed Callicoon resident Buck Moorhead's repeated concern.
At the town board’s July 10 meeting, Moorhead once again criticized the plan, arguing that the town’s proposed Delaware River overlay zone on certain RU (Rural) districts close to the river will not clearly delineate what’s permitted and what’s not permitted to be built in an environmentally sensitive area.
“You’re saying, ‘You’re really subject to the RU district, but we’re going to explain it later’,” Moorhead said, calling the proposal “convoluted,” “labor-intensive” and “confusing.”
“The more clear it is, the better it is ... [but] this is, to me, like exactly the opposite,” he told the board.
As in the past, Sykes and Planning Board Chairman Gerald Euker disagreed with Moorhead, arguing that “nothing has changed.”
“I agree there’s more than one way to skin this cat,” said Euker, “but this is the way we chose.”
Every argument was met with a counterargument. For example, Moorhead felt this particular aspect of the new law “has no performance standards,” whereas Euker replied that the guidelines of the Upper Delaware Council’s River Management Plan apply, as they always have.
Moorhead shot back that those are guidelines, not legally binding rules, but Euker responded they are enforceable.
Sykes eventually explained that putting in even more regulations on the river overlay zone would remove “flexibility” from the planning board when considering development.
“We’re kicking this to death,” he observed, citing two private enterprise projects that may have headed elsewhere due to the ongoing delay in adopting the new rules.
“I’m going to keep coming back until I make you guys understand this,” advised Moorhead.
That time may come to an end on Wednesday, when Sykes indicated the board is likely to approve the zoning law as it currently exists, without Moorhead’s desired revision.
(At press time, it was learned that the Upper Delaware Council and National Park Service have also signed off on the zoning rules as being “in substantial conformance” with the River Management Plan.)
Weigh in on PB change
Citing difficulties in finding members, the town board intends to reduce the planning board from 7 members to five.
Since two seats are currently vacant, the reduction would not result in a member’s termination, but there still has to be a public hearing before adoption.
That hearing is set for 6:55 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14, just before the regular town board meeting at 7 p.m.