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#39611 - 09/10/08 03:35 PM Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights
MarcC Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/10/00
Posts: 3532
Yanking this out of the October guidebook thread, yet again Kent sez:
 Originally Posted By: Kent
Mike said...
 Quote:
What's more important, the condition of the natural landscape or the landowner's rights??

Mike, this is a false dichotomy. The choice isn’t between the condition of the natural landscape and landowners rights but rather between the community sharing the burden of preserving the land and the community imposing that burden on a tiny handful of landowners.

Also, what about the condition of the natural landscape over at the Mohonk Mountain House, or the miles and miles of carriage road on the Mohonk Preserve?
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Gabe said....
 Quote:
No, but your framing of the issue betrays how polarized this has become.

Gabe, you say “betray” as if somehow I’m trying to hide the fact that Gardiner’s “live and let die” ridge zoning law is polarizing when in fact I’ve been making the argument, and rather loudly, for years now, that the zoning law is exceptionally unfair and divisive and has deeply polarized the community.

 Quote:
The best way for a landowner to preserve against environmental impact is to sell development rights for a land easement.

It’s hard to sell rights that have already been confiscated by the town. Additionally, the inferred recreationist impacts in this thread are soil erosion and compaction, the stripping of lichens off the cliff, and littering. These are best addressed by landowners simply keeping recreationists out.

 Quote:
Particularly if the landowner would actually like to preserve both climbing access and their own rights, while keeping the level of environmental impact within certain bounds.

There just isn’t any upside for landowners in allowing climbing access. Climbers present a possible liability problem, they trample trees, shrubs etc., everywhere they go. They compact and erode the soil. They leave garbage. They make noise. When confronted with the possibility that they may no longer have access climbers have variously threatened to sue, threatened violence, proclaimed they will have to be “arrested or assaulted” to keep them off private land. I mean really, under the current circumstances, why would any landowner want to allow access to climbers?

As well, many climbers have participated in a regulatory process deeply harmful to landowners.

............................................

Chip mentioned that eminent domain is increasingly being used and is being rightly stomped down.

Emminent domain would in fact be better than the raw deal we've been dealt because the town would have to pay us at least something. But because the town has used zoning regulations, rather than eminent domain, and left most landowners some “viable use”, they don’t have to pay us a dime. The only exceptions may be the Wustraus and the Majestics. If the Fiends of the Shawangunks (FOS), who are suing the Wustraus to keep them from using their land, prevail in court, then the ridge zoning law will effectively have taken all viable use and the Wustraus will have a pretty good eminent domain claim against the town. The Wustrau’s land, prior to passage of the law, was probably worth something on the order of a million dollars, which, after years and years of litigation, will be what the town will be on the hook for. I might add there are at least two climbers on the board of FOS.
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Nate said.......
 Quote:
Right, it's a three-way tug-of-war going on between private landowners, recreationists, and conservationists.

Nate, how is it a three way tug-of-war? It seems to be more like the town colluding with preservationist organizations, and their recreationist members, to gang up on landowners and the poor results are pretty apparent. This need not be the case. In other communities, in other parts of the country, everyone collaborates. Some collaborative methods and innovative funding tools are described in James Levitt’s From Walden to Wall Street: Frontiers of Conservation Finance. As I once mentioned before, when Leavitt was asked why there was no mention of zoning in his book, he responded “communities across the country are deciding they don’t want government in their backyards”. Levitt is the director of The Program on Conservation Innovation. You won’t find mention of the use of zoning anywhere on their website.


So from these threads over the years, my key learnings are:

1. If you purchase land abutting any kind of preserve, expect that preserve to want to expand it's land holdings.

2. Even if they don't expand, expect an attempt to influence how surrounding land is used.

3. Expect a close working relationship between any large land holder and the government of town(s) where the land is located.

4. If relatively few landowners are impacted, don't expect a lot of support. (See #3)

5. If you purchase land with the intention of doing X "someday", make sure "someday" is asap and do X as soon as you can since regulations and entities will eventually change.

6. Perform appropriate due diligence before purchase.

7. Not expecting any of the first 5 above points is naive.
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#39616 - 09/10/08 04:53 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: MarcC]
pedestrian Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 2244
Loc: a heavily fortified bunker!
Kent,

I'm commenting more about the general situation but feel free to see the issue through your own unique lens, since that's what you do best. Many in the recreation community (Lou Dawson of wildsnow.com perhaps most prominent among them) are becoming increasingly concerned about the excesses that runaway environmentalism has fostered. Global warming? Look where Kyoto has gotten us, it's a cluster!@#$. You've got countries like China, after they've manufactured refrigerants that they were never intending to use, charging the rest of the world ransom money to destroy them. And now that's considered a legitimate business model. I could go on. But with radical environmentalists proposing to block all access to recreation, it seems like a no-brainer: that's just one example of why the environmentalist movement has become too radicalized to justify an automatic assumption on the part of recreationists that they are working in our favor. Those days are over and we the rest of us need to carefully ask, whose interests are these people really looking out for? Heck, how much gas do we all burn on the way to the Gunks, anyway?

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#39619 - 09/10/08 06:47 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: MarcC]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5979
Loc: 212 land
MarcC's seven conclusions are well stated. Perhaps I'm naive here, but I'd think a homeowner would want to keep some unbuildable highly rocky land only as a buffer and beyond this wouldn't mind selling such land, if not too close to the home, at a reasonable price. I might sympathize with Kent in that if a municipality wants to restrict some land use that is not a nuisance, it is unscrupulous to do this as an alternative to compensated condemnation.
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#39621 - 09/10/08 07:06 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: oenophore]
alicex4 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 3400
"Perhaps I'm naive here, but I'd think a homeowner would want to keep some unbuildable highly rocky land only as a buffer and beyond this wouldn't mind selling such land, if not too close to the home, at a reasonable price."


I'll be the first to say it, you are naive.

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#39624 - 09/10/08 07:49 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: alicex4]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5979
Loc: 212 land
I'll be the first to say it, you are naive.

I can accept that. What is the landowners' rationale for doing otherwise?
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#39628 - 09/10/08 08:56 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: oenophore]
Mike Rawdon Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/29/99
Posts: 4276
Loc: Poughkeepsie
 Originally Posted By: oenophore
MarcC's seven conclusions are well stated. Perhaps I'm naive here, but I'd think a homeowner would want to keep some unbuildable highly rocky land only as a buffer and beyond this wouldn't mind selling such land, if not too close to the home, at a reasonable price.


If I understand the problem (which I may not), it's not unbuildable rocky land that is at issue. It's that if you have a large tract of buildable land, the law dictates what kind of house you can build on it.

I had trouble wading through the zoning language. A lot of what I initially read re. the conservation easements was limited to "developments" , defined AFAIK as 5 or more houses. In that context, the only people who should be upset are people
- who are developers
- who might become developers
- who might want to sell their land to a developer

But I may have missed something.

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#39631 - 09/10/08 09:12 PM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: oenophore]
alicex4 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 3400
That's one of the reasons to nix the blue house for sale right next to the Preserve's info center. Aside from traffic, a short lot, tons of people parking next door to you place in the summer, you have to deal the preserve strong arm-Godfather like "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse" pressure if/when you want to upgrade/remodel your property. It's just not worth it to be a preserve neighbor. If the Preserve were serious about expanding/protecting their lands they would make an offer on the house. But i suspect the 365,000 tag is too high for them to bother.


Edited by alicex4 (09/10/08 09:13 PM)

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#39635 - 09/11/08 01:41 AM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: alicex4]
Dillbag Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 1130
Loc: "The Town"
Marc, you made some good points... However:
 Originally Posted By: MarcC
1. If you purchase land abutting any kind of preserve, expect that preserve to want to expand it's land holdings.


You are assuming (and it's a big assumption) that EVERYONE who's land is up against the preserve bought it AFTER the preserve was in existence... This is not necessarily the case, so what is your rational for a situation where a preserve (or other large land holder) BECOMES your neighbor and starts to influence the zoning or other laws?
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#39636 - 09/11/08 05:26 AM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: Dillbag]
MarcC Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/10/00
Posts: 3532
The rationale is the same: the preserve/conservation area/whatever will likely want to expand and/or at least, exert influence. My point was that to assume otherwise, as apparently some Gunks landowners have done, is a naive stance.

In the specific instance here, it's not like the MP suddenly came into existence in the past year and then magically forced a zoning change overnight. And it's not like the zoning regs that Gardiner was willing to bend or massively change in the 1980's for the Marriott project wasn't a clear indication of how the town approached such matters. So what was that - 20+ years of notice? And now people are just shocked that land (talus slope, really) they let sit fallow for 1, 2, 4 or more decades is now subject to a zoning change? From an outside observer, it just seems folks are very upset with themselves for not selling to a developer in the mid-90's or developing the land themselves.
_________________________
- Marc

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#39637 - 09/11/08 10:16 AM Re: Preservation, Zoning, and Landowner Rights [Re: MarcC]
Kent Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/21/00
Posts: 1038
Loc: The Bayards
Marc,

Let's follow your logic to it's conclusion. In order for a landowner to be less than naive they would have to move to develop their land as soon as they can to prevent the community from stripping them of their development rights in the future.

Pauline Alexander has owned 110-120 acres, including the middle third, or so, of Millbrook, for decades. Should she have been less naive and built 20 houses below Millbrook before passage of the recent zoning law? Would that have been best for the community? How do you think Mrs. Alexander will feel about your contention that she is naive for not previously developing her property? I'd be happy to introduce you to her if you'd like to tell her yourself.

Zoning laws are somewhat ephemeral, almost as ephemeral as the complexion of town boards. If the pendulum swings in Gardiner, and a new board is elected that reverses the zoning laws, should ridge landowners then rush to develop as much as they can before the board changes yet again? Will that be best for the land or the community?

On the other side of the ridge, in the Town of Rochester, last year voters gave the boot to the town board which was trying to emulate Gardiner's. Should landowners on the ridge in Rochester now move to develop as soon as they can, in anticipation of losing their development rights in the future, because they live next to a large influential landowner? Would that be best for the land or the community?

What of the Wustraus? Their land has been in Joan Wustrau's family for 118 years. Are they naive too? They are warm and affable people. I'm sure they'd be willing to sit down with you so you can try to explain how naive they've been for not having developed their land sooner.

If landowners followed your logic there would be excessive development on the ridge.

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