To the editor:
One of the Lysander Town Board’s most important responsibilities is its role in property development in Lysander. Decisions made by the board now impact and shape our town for generations to come.
Property owners have a clear right to develop their land according to current zoning regulations. The town also allows developers to apply for incentive zoning. Such applications typically request anywhere from 1 to 4 more homes per acre than allowable under normal zoning. The idea behind the incentive zoning tool is smart; the developer adds something beneficial to the community, and/or the town gets money and other concessions from the developer making the trade off worthwhile. While allowing higher density housing may garner fiscal benefits for the town in the short term (long term is more of an unknown), it also has potential drawbacks including infringing on existing areas, particularly those that either are rural or have a rural feel, and suppressing overall property values of existing homes. What is considered a pro or con related to specific incentive zoning applications tend to be highly subjective, making it increasingly important to have an objective and diverse board willing to listen to public feedback as well as other information to make an informed decision in the towns best interest, in keeping with what makes Lysander unique as compared to other areas like Liverpool. Since the town is under no obligation to approve incentive zoning, if an application is approved, the board should be getting a good deal for the town either monetarily or culturally. That is not happening.
It has been my observation that the current town board is making zoning decisions that are neither fiscally savvy nor in the interest of keeping Lysander a unique place to live. By largely disregarding constituent input during public hearings and in a recent decision, input by the Onondaga County Planning Board (professionals skilled in this area), the board is acting unilaterally in a way that is out of step with feedback from town constituents attending public hearings. I believe this to be a symptom of a town board comprised of members with similar mindsets who are not challenging each other to negotiate the best deals, and who are not representative of a large cross section of town constituents.
There are two town board seats up for election this year. I encourage you to vote for fresh leadership and perspective in this area by voting Gail Tosh and Kevin Rode for town councilors this November. Both believe fiscal responsibility is paramount and intend to back that up if elected. Gail will carefully weigh public need, feedback and overall fiscal responsibility before making decisions. She is open-minded and thoughtful and would be an asset to the board if elected. Kevin is a lifelong Lysander resident, well-versed in town business and history. As a town councilor Kevin would have the benefit of hindsight when faced with new challenges and would offer objective leadership and advocate for all town residents.