Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Look Forward and Some Project Updates

First a couple of public service announcements:

If you notice an increase of signs in the East Fishkill area it may be due to a new law that the Town Board passed a few months ago. Properties that are before either the Planning Board or the Zoning Board of Appeals are now required to post (in some cases many) signs stating that these properties have a pending application that is coming to the public hearing stage. This is our effort to let people know about projects that may affect them and to allow for proper public input. It was only about a decade ago when the only notice that people had were those small legal notices in the newspaper! We now realize that the signs are a bit difficult to read but this is our first attempt – so bear with us while we work out the bugs.

Draft Environmental Impact Statements and Final Environmental Impact Statements for certain projects before the Planning Board (and sometime the Z.B.A.) will soon be posted on a website that is linked to our Town homepage. This is in response to a law enacted last year by the state – a law that we heartily support.

Now to the blog:

I was just reading a newspaper article that I was given a few months ago. The article described the efforts of the Dutchess County Planner and a planning firm hired by the Town of East Fishkill to address issues of growth. The reporter talked about the impacts of future growth on Southern Dutchess County in regards to industrial and residential development and the importance of proper land use and planning. The article described the consequences of the move of people and businesses out of the city into the outlying areas and the resulting sprawl and rising property values. It was a very good article, interestingly enough, it was written in April of 1962. And here we are, nearly 45 years later still wrestling with the same problems!

I suppose that since the last blog was a look back – this blog should be a look forward. To say that we (the Town Board and I) have a lot of work ahead of us is such an understatement. Looking forward, I see nothing less than a dramatic change of direction. Personally, I feel that there is an incredible need to change things – yet there is little time.

Regarding the more immediate issues, I have assembled a Workforce / Senior Housing Committee to help find solutions to that housing shortage. I am presently setting up an Open Space Preservation Committee to identify properties that, if preserved, would maintain some of the historic and cultural (hmmm…is rural a culture?) features that have attracted us to East Fishkill, research funding mechanisms and matching funds, and steward the land. In addition, I am hopeful that in the next few months we will find water sources to resolve the Brettview Water quality issue and provide a viable source for Presidential Way. We still need to install filters at the Revere Park Water District, but the Shenandoah Water Project is finally moving along, and the Board and I are researching the Sagamor Sewer rates. Over six months ago I had made an application to the D.O.T. for turning lanes in the Robinson Lane / Lake Walton / Rt. 376 corridor. We are still waiting for the go-ahead to bring on an engineer (just to design the project!). In addition, I am looking at services that we, as a government, provide in order to gauge whether we are doing these things efficiently and cost effectively, or whether we should have another entity provide those services. We are still working to implement laws to protect our wetlands, steep slopes, and address the permitted lot count. Yet, several large development projects are lumbering through the approval process (those that began years ago and could not legally be impacted by our moratorium).

Speaking of the laws that we are proposing, we are finding that many of our zoning ordinances are sorely in need of revision. The enactment of our wetlands, steep slopes, and lot count laws, although very, very important do not address the bigger issues of large-scale development. This is making me think that we may need to review our Master Plan. This would mean extending the moratorium in some fashion, yet again.

Still, looking ahead I would like to increase our commercial and industrial tax base – and, hopefully, create new, quality jobs. I would like to establish our senior and workforce housing, as well as preserve open space. But, viewing the big picture, the challenge is how to allow growth that affects a balance of residential / commercial development which maintains a solid tax base while preserving key properties that reflect the character of our town. This presents a very difficult problem – one which will most likely require the formation of a Master Plan Committee.

I happened to stumble on this news feed while checking the EF web site for other info.

It's great to see the Town Board embracing technology that has long been available, to get information out to interested residents.

Keep up the good work!
It's great to see that the town understands the need for commercial growth to support our growing population. Without that, our homeowners would bear the brunt of solely supporting the tax base. As well, added services help support our quality of life. Thank you to the board who understands that smart growth brings jobs and quality of life. Thanks to the great people of this town and for the great ideas. Keep up the good work! Pay it forward...
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