Last night I found myself in the uncomfortable position of voting "no" on a good project. The Jewett Family Farm was seeking to get a lot line revision approved by both Town and Village planning boards (something that, as I remarked at an earlier meeting, is one of the best arguments for unification that I've heard all year). They will be giving some land to the Historical Huguenot Society and taking some back in return, more or less formalizing how the land has been used for some time anyway.
Most of the land involved is encumbered by a conservation easement which was created as part of the well-publicized Two Farms Campaign back in 2007. That easement permitted two home sites, and this modification would be transferring one of those between landowners. The easement isn't ready for review yet, and I didn't think it was particularly good planning to approve an application without knowing all the details. I was cast the only "no" vote.
Not the only lone "no" in November
My former colleagues at the Town Planning Board were asked to recommend a variance to the Zoning Board of Appeals with virtually no information. This is again a case where the application could very well prove to be a good idea; Hampton Inn wants to build a hotel at the old Frito-Lay site, and is looking to go one story taller than code allows. They provided a few pictures, but no formally prepared drawings or analysis. Jonathan Wright was the dissenter in that case, feeling that it's madness (my word, not his) to recommend a variance from our laws if we don't know whether or not they could make a go of it under existing zoning, especially when we're talking about the gateway to New Paltz.
The New Paltz Times also provided sketchy details about chairman Paul Brown's lone dissenting vote in the case of Dawn Brown's application to turn one lot into three on Springtown Road. Neighbors have been mighty concerned about the increased flood potential that new buildings would represent in this area, which probably should never have been developed in the first place for that reason alone - building on a flood plain is a common form of human stupidity, though, so we can't fault our forebears for not having foresight. My prior conversations with Paul Brown don't shed much light on his reasoning - he is generally in support of development, but has expressed an interest in finding ways to keep more development out of this sensitive area through a "transfer of development rights." If I had to guess, I would think that he justified being the only member voting to approve the site plan because he feels that an individual's right to choose the destiny of one's own land should not be influenced by, well, anything at all.