10 Point Plan to Fight Overdevelopment and Protect our Quality of Life By Thom Kleiner
1. Hire additional code enforcement officers to ensure our building and property maintenance codes are strictly enforced
The best way to ensure we stay on top of code violations in Orangetown is to ensure our building department is properly staffed. Too often, individuals seeking to skirt our laws take advantage of the fact that our hardworking building department is responsible for enforcing code on thousands of properties in town. When I am elected, I will immediately begin reviewing the department’s workload and identifying the proper staffing levels to accomplish what needs to be done.
2. NO DOWNZONING!
We adopted our zoning codes for good reason and the last thing we need to be doing is changing them to add new high density housing. That’s why I oppose the current proposal to rezone property in Blauvelt from commercial and single family residential to high density multi-family housing.
3. Increase penalties for repeat violators of our building code—fines cannot just be the cost of doing business
For some owners, paying fines to the town for code violations is just part of the cost of doing business. This is not acceptable. We need to increase penalties for people and companies that repeatedly violate our building codes so that they get the message: if you want to own property in Orangetown you have to follow our laws–no exceptions!
4. Buy vulnerable properties to protect them from the wrong kinds of development
Buying properties to protect them from irresponsible or inappropriate development is sometimes necessary. When I was Supervisor, the town purchased hundreds of acres on Clausland Mountain that would otherwise have been developed and preserved them as parkland for all to enjoy. If I am elected again, we will identify properties that may be important for the town to consider purchasing to prevent unwanted development. It will be important to work with the county, state, and other government partners to seek financial assistance for these efforts.
5. Conduct a comprehensive review of the town’s zoning code to ensure it appropriately protects our neighborhoods
If elected, I will immediately begin the process of reviewing the town’s zoning code, with outside planning experts if needed, to ensure that we have the strongest possible protections in place for our residential neighborhoods. For most of us, our home is our biggest investment and it is important we protect the value of that investment with zoning that limits inappropriate high density housing, or industrial development near single family neighborhoods.
6. Involve the community to develop long term plans for large properties such as Pfizer/IRG and Nyack College
Some of the biggest properties in town are going through transitions. With the impending closure of Nyack College, the possible sale of the former IBM Conference Center in Palisades, and Pfizer/IRG’s ongoing efforts to envision new uses for their site, Orangetown needs to take an active role in helping guide appropriate redevelopment of these sites. I believe we need to engage neighbors and community stakeholders, as we did with the Rockland Psych. Center property, in developing a positive vision for these properties and then work with current and future owners to make these visions a reality.
7. Aggressively prosecute anyone who violates the town’s Do Not Knock Law and engages in real estate solicitation
Former Supervisor Andy Stewart led the way in passing Orangetown’s Do Not Knock Law, but in order for the law to have its intended effect of protecting residents from unwanted solicitation, we need to make sure that violators of the law are prosecuted. I’ll make it a priority to ensure that anyone who violates our do not knock law faces the consequences. Residents should not have to live with people bothering them at home on a regular basis.
8. Improve public notification of projects going before the land use boards so neighbors have a chance to make their voices heard
Many other municipalities do a better job than Orangetown when it comes to letting neighbors know that a property in their neighborhood is the subject of an application before the Planning, Zoning, or other land use boards. We will increase the size and visibility of signage and make sure more information is distributed to residents of nearby properties so they can make their voices heard if they have objections to a proposed project.
9. Increase the minimum lot size for religious use so places of worship don’t burden residential neighborhoods with excess traffic
The town has already taken some welcome steps to address this issue, but we need to take another look at this issue to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect our neighborhoods.
10. Mandate disclosure of LLC owners before any land use proposal by an LLCs is considered
Too often, limited liability companies (LLCs) are used by individuals who would prefer not to be identified. We should change town code to require full disclosure of an LLC’s true owners BEFORE our building department or land use boards take the time to review an application for any property owned by an LLC.