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Greenwich Town Board
March 13, 2007


by Jenny Little

The “z” word, (zoning), was on lots of people’s minds at the March Greenwich Town Board meeting. Town Clerk Elaine Kelly reported a great deal of correspondence about zoning. Rather than reading it aloud at the meeting, she will make copies available at the Town Offices for people who wish to see what correspondents are saying.

Greenwich town resident Walt Fish used the public comment portion of the meeting to ask the Board about the possibility of a variance. Mr. Fish asked to be allowed to put a 1988 double wide trailer on his property. After pondering Mr. and Mrs. Fish’s situation and reviewing town codes on this matter, Town Supervisor Don Wilbur asked Mr. Fish to demonstrate to the Board that he has tried to come into compliance with the code, and if he cannot, to demonstrate the “extraordinary hardship” the law calls for.

The rest of the considerable time given over to public comment was taken up discussing recent developments in the saga of writing the town a zoning ordinance. Two events at a meeting the previous day, Monday, March 12th, triggered comment from attendees. This March 12th, meeting was a discussion between the zoning commission and the town board held at the Greenwich Public Library.

Two things happened at that meeting: Supervisor Wilbur made a suggestion for a significant change in the draft zoning ordinance, and at the same time the zoning commission decided their work was complete and submitted the draft to the town board for decision.

Mr. Wilbur proposed changing the classification from rural/agricultural to residential in two places. The two areas he was thinking of are North Road going out of the village as far as Derby Road. The other was North Greenwich road going out of the village as far as Meader Road. Mr. Wilbur indicated that Village Mayor Chris McCormick spoke of the village’s willingness to consider extending water lines out these two roads. Mr. Wilbur thought low cost housing could be built in this expanded residential area. When questioned about the statistics that show residential development does not pay for the services they expect (schools, roads, etc.), he countered that he didn’t know if that statistic held true for very expensive homes.

Mr. Wilbur stated that his intention with his new proposal was to relieve housing pressure on agricultural land by providing building opportunities closer to the village. State Trooper John Peck and resident Bob Stomberg commented on the increased traffic coming into the village that expanded residential development would bring.

Tammara Van Ryn, a member of the zoning commission, spoke up. She reminded people that the zoning commission had worked hard for 1 ½ years to accomplish goals as set out in the town’s comprehensive plan. She mentioned two goals; 1) gradual, appropriate growth in the town, and 2) avoiding activities on the land that would change the character of the land. She asserted that the zoning commission had provided the town with a carefully crafted “balanced meal”. She asked the town board not to upset the balance by picking and choosing from the draft law’s provisions.

While acknowledging the hard, careful work of the zoning commission, Mr. Wilbur asserted the right of the Town Board to alter the draft as it sees fit. He also said he will be relieved when all of this is over. He urged Town Council members to carefully consider the draft proposal. He hoped the Council will eventually come to a unanimous acceptance of a zoning ordinance.

The Railroad Bridge over the Battenkill at Greenwich - photo by Clifford Oliver