Last month the Lloyd Town Board set a public hearing for November 20th at 7 pm at Town Hall, 12 Church St.,Highland to consider the adoption of town-wide building moratorium. The sole No vote for a public hearing was cast by Councilman Lenny Auchmoody. Following its adoption, the moratorium would be in effect for 6 months, with two additional periods of 3 months each that would have to be approved by the Town Board.
The legislation states that, “this moratorium is necessary in order to temporarily prohibit development to preserve the status quo while affording the Town Board sufficient time to evaluate and update the Comprehensive Plan and to amend the existing zoning laws of the town.”
The legislation would temporarily halt approvals for commercial, industrial or mixed-use buildings, subdivisions, multi-family buildings, continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living/memory care facilities, upper floor apartments and manufactured home parks.
The legislation points out that, “all actions on pending applications currently before officials or boards of the Town of Lloyd for the development approvals listed herein are hereby temporarily suspended during the period of this moratorium and no decisions shall be made either approving or denying such applications during the period of the moratorium.”
The legislation states that applications for residential subdivisions involving less than ten lots are exempt from this moratorium as well as, “applications for building permits for approved lots or structures to be used for residential purposes, including two-family dwellings, accessory apartments, accessory buildings and manufactured homes and additions.”
The legislation touches upon the issuance of Variances, allowing the Town Board to “vary or modify” an application after determining that the moratorium, “would impose practical difficulties or extraordinary hardships upon an applicant and that the variance granted would not adversely affect the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the town,” or significantly conflict with the general purpose of the moratorium.
For the past several months a significant number of residents have approached the Town Board, saying they are against the large number of development projects that have been recently proposed on the south side of Lloyd. They have suggested that a temporary moratorium would allow time for the Town Board to evaluate and make changes to the town code and prevent runaway development.
Councilman Joe Mazzetti said a moratorium would not put the town budget over the tax cap. He stressed that he wants to slow things down and do what is right for the community.
Councilwoman Claire Winslow said a moratorium is needed because the recent spate of development projects is moving “way too fast and we want to make sure that our Building Department is going to do everything to cross their t’s and dot their i’s and make sure that we look at each project individually so we can move forward with them responsibly...It’s for us to be able to look at the entire Comprehensive Plan and see where we want to go as a town. We’re not looking to kill the developers but what we’re doing is looking to make sure that we’re making sound decisions for everybody who lives in this town.”
Supervisor Paul Hansut said he is not in favor of a moratorium but voted yes for a public hearing, saying that it is important to allow the public to comment on a proposed action or law that the board is considering.
Jeff Paladino said there are Zoning and Planning Board members who oversee all of the development projects in town. In addition, he said the NYS State Environmental Quality Review Act [SEQRA], “is one of the most stringent processes that any development can go through in this nation. You go through traffic, you go from A to Z on the Indiana Bat, to water and sewer and in all honesty, the town really has no regulation over Route 9W. The NYS Department of Transportation are the ones that are going to come in and say this is what we’re willing to do, so putting in a moratorium is a stop gap [measure]. I understand they [town] are willing to do it in a relatively quick fashion, which I hope they do, but the track record really isn’t good.”
Paladino pointed out that in the last decade the town’s assessment has increased by about $37 million, “because of an understanding board, an understanding planning board and an understanding Building Department that worked hand in hand to create what we have today; that brought forth revenue and limited impact to our town.”
Paladino said the additional money has been a benefit to the town’s bottom line and he urged caution when handling development. He said the proposed Auto Zone, a Stewart’s Shop and especially a hotel will not only add to the tax base but will provide accommodations for visitors to the town and collectively, “make the town everything that we hope it can be.”
Paladino also informed the board that he is no longer is an owner of the property across from Hannaford. He sold his share in 2018 and received the final installment payment from purchaser, Owen Sanderson, in September 2019.
“I never got involved in the current [proposed] development at all,” he said, a comment that he reaffirmed in a subsequent interview with the Southern Ulster Times and provided a document attesting to the sale.