Sullivan County, NY - Fallsburg Passes One Year Moratorium On Housing Developments
Sullivan County, NY - A one year moratorium on all developments encompassing more than five residential units was unanimously approved tonight by the Fallsburg town board.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://goo.gl/WI7P70), Fallsburg Town Supervisor Steve Vegliante said that the moratorium was designed to give the town an opportunity to devise a plan to accommodate growth within the town which has expanded significantly in recent years. Vegliante was insistent that the town’s current growing pains are not religiously motivated and that he intends to continue fostering understanding and communication between the town’s varied residents.
The town, which includes Fallsburg, South Fallsburg, Mountaindale, Hurleyville, Loch Sheldrake and Woodbourne, currently has 8,000 homes, with almost 4,000 homes currently in the planning stages. 1,200 of those homes that already have final approval or conditional final approval from the town would be exempted from the moratorium.
A public hearing held last week at the Woodbourne Firehouse gave more than thirty town residents an opportunity to express their views on the moratorium. Concerns about local sewer systems were a hot topic, reported the Sullivan County Democrat.
John Wallace, a worker at the South Fallsburg waste treatment plant that serves the town said that the facility was already overtaxed because of the many summer residents that flock to Fallsburg in the warmer months, resulting in an unpleasant lingering odor in the area.
“You smell that smell?” asked Wallace. “That is not the lack of us doing our job. That’s the point where the sewer plant cannot handle what’s coming in.”
Wallace acknowledged that the town must consider the needs of both summer and year round residents.
“The people who come here in the summer are part of our community and we need to respect them as we do the people who are here in the winter,” observed Wallace.
Other residents raised concerns about additional developments impacting negatively on the town’s water supply and its rural character.
Rebecca Pratt, one of the founding members of Fallsburg’s Future which has raised concerns about development in the town, said that residents are not looking to prevent construction but are hoping for “responsible development.”
Jay Zeiger, a Woodbourne attorney who often represents developers at town meetings, argued against the moratorium, saying that heavy development has been going on in Fallsburg for the last decade, giving the town board plenty of time to contemplate responsible growth. The only real issues, argued Zeiger, are water and sewer services.
“Fix those problems,” said Zeiger. “You don’t need a moratorium to fix that.”
Several speakers said that the moratorium, , which could be extended an additional six months, could spell financial ruin for the many town residents who are employed by the construction business.
“There are no other jobs in the Fallsburg/South Fallsburg area,” said Leo Castillo owner of LC Construction.
Mountaindale resident Laura Marichal said that she had no choice but to leave her hometown ten years ago in order to become a doctor.
“I wanted to live in a place that wasn’t dying,” said Marichal.
Marichal said that summer residents have kept the town going, describing them as “the only reason we have only local businesses,” asking the board to find a way to correct the town’s infrastructure problems “without putting thousands of people out of work.”
Vegliante pledged to assemble a diverse group to work on a comprehensive update to the town plan.
“We want a cross section because that’s what Fallsburg is,” said Vegliante.
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