In the lead-up to the Richfield Town Board adopting a new Comprehensive Plan & Zoning Code, people said they want to see the town come together.
People observed that “nothing’s happened” in the Richfield Springs area in the past 20 years (or longer).
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By noon Monday, 10/28
People mourned the decline in enrollment of the Richfield Springs Central School, which graduated 29 seniors on June 29.
These emotions are easily understood.
But to conclude, as some did, that the town’s new comp plan and code, hatched without the knowledge of the community at large with special interests in mind, will accomplish any of those things is likely mistaken.
While polite, meetings leading up to the final decision – a public hearing Sept. 23 on the zoning code, and the town board meeting Sept. 30 where members of a clique, 3-2, jammed through the undigested document – were angry.
The reasons have been spelled out in our news pages: West End neighbors, their lawsuit against the five-turbine Monticello Hills Wind foiled, took control of the process of revising the comp plan and zoning code.
By the time the community at large became aware of what was going on, the neighbors controlled the Zoning Commission, the Planning Board and three of five seats on the Town Board.
In addition to banning wind turbines, and original comp plan virtually prohibited any development along Route 20, the major commercial thoroughfare through the town.
After an outcry, and more measured inputs by people like Andela Products President Cynthia Andela, that was revised. On the whole, though, the plan pushed through Sept. 30 envisions the Town of Richfield’s future as agricultural – as dairying disappears – and residential.
That ensures “nothing” will happen, new people won’t move in, commerce will remain stagnant, school enrollment will continue to ebb.
The Republican Town Board slate – former Supervisor Nick Palevsky, incumbent Town Board member Fred Eckler and newcomer Ed Bello Jr. – object to the new comp plan and code.
They deserve voters’ support Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the town and across Otsego County, where local elections will be held.
If elected, a first step being considered would be to revisit the petitions signed by landowners in the town to require a super-majority – a 4-1 vote – to pass the zoning code. If found valid after all, and Sept. 30 vote is moot. The code is no more.
If that happened, it would have to be just the beginning. A process – the particulars are unclear; this is a rare occurrence – would have to be pursued to come up with a new comp plan and zoning code that truly reflects the widest possible consensus among townsfolks.
Done correctly – not by any special-interest group, but by community leaders guided by only the good of the whole – a new broad-based plan might very well achieve what everyone wants.
That’s a community that’s come together, not torn apart, where “something” can happen in terms of jobs and commerce, where RSCS will indeed flourish again.