To the editor:
This is in response to the letter from Jamie Bodenlos in last week’s paper [“Who are the Lysander town councilors really representing?” May 3]. The writer states that we must not be representing the residents of the town because of the board’s decision to approve of the project and she even intimates that we have done something illegal and contrary to the law. That is an unfair and unfortunate position for the writer to have taken, for clearly she is mistaken.
The town board represents the entire town and all of its residents and every decision made is done from that vantage. A property owner, which everyone who pays town taxes is, has a right to use, as well as, if desired, to develop one’s property. This is not a novel idea, but is embedded in the very fabric of our country and is a right that no one would dare call into question. Zoning creates parameters for such use and these guidelines, developed over time within communities, are there to be taken seriously and with utmost respect. The town board previous to this one developed, with the input of many people — experts and residents alike — the idea for Incentive Zoning, which allows for innovation in the way those properties can be developed for the purpose of saving greenspace and for providing amenities to the town not normally associated with developments. In addition, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan calls for all future developments to have a zero tax impact on the town; that is the whole reason for encouraging denser developments because traditional developments have been shown to not be able to pay for themselves over time.
That is exactly the process that was followed for Collington Pointe. Contrary to the letter writer’s statement that the board did not listen to the residents who provided input at the public hearings, it was that input that helped the board come up with a final product that reduced the number of homes and preserved even more greenspace. Incidentally, where other communities might scramble to obtain greenspace by needing to use tax dollars to purchase acreage, this Incentive Zoning program innovatively creates a mechanism for obtaining such lands without spending money by having the developer give these lands to the town. Our goal is to leave this land alone and it will remain part of the town’s greenspace character in perpetuity. I can only hope we can do more of this in the future, because once natural areas are gone, they are gone forever.
I am not sure what Ms. Bodenlos would have preferred, but it almost appears as if she would have liked the Board to say no to development. That is so un-American and clearly not how a democratic government operates. Our role in government is to precisely follow the law and, in doing so, protect the rights of all citizens including property owners. That is clearly what was accomplished.
Lysander Town Councilor