Will ridge live happily ever after?

ANCRAM—Earlier drafts of the zoning ordinance amendment to protect ridgelines in this town were thought to be too much; then later—too little, but the latest proposal will be just right…hopefully.

Councilman and Zoning Revision Committee Chair Hugh Clark termed the public reaction to the prior ridgeline protection regulation proposals as “the Goldilocks syndrome” during his introduction to the latest incarnation of the ridgeline regulation at the March 20 Town Board meeting.

The diligent Zoning Revision Committee (ZRC), which has been meeting since March 2010 to revise the town’s 42-year-old zoning ordinance to coincide with the vision, goals and strategies of the Comprehensive Plan adopted in April 2010, has proposed two more options to protect ridgelines in one of the county’s most scenic areas.

At endless public hearings, drafts submitted in September 2012, April 2013 and October 2013 came under fire for protecting too many ridgelines, for protecting too few ridgelines, for protecting ridgelines that cannot be seen and for not requiring that both major and minor subdivisions adhere to ridgeline protection guidelines.

In November 2013, the Town Board asked the ZRC to: determine which ridgelines/steep slopes merit protection and determine how to honor Comprehensive Plan guidance that standards should be mandatory for major subdivisions and encouraged for minor subdivisions.

The committee decided a minimum elevation of 800 feet should be the “initial discriminator” and that “terrain above this elevation might reasonably be considered topographically prominent,” according to Mr. Clark.

Among the six criteria applied for topographic prominence and scenic importance was visibility from four or more miles away at publicly accessible locations.

The ridgeline terrain now recommended for protection lies in 97 parcels. This compares to 170 parcels in the April 2013 proposal and 29 in the October 2013 proposal.

The ZRC came up with two recommendations for Town Board consideration. The board will study the proposals and set a public hearing date on them next month.

In other business the Town Board:

*Heard from Ancram Fire Chief David Boice that the Department of Environmental Conservation ban on outdoor burning is in effect until May 15. Chief Boice also said that Ancram will host the Roe Jan area Memorial Day Parade this year, May 26 at 11 a.m.; and the Ancram Fire Company will celebrate its 75th anniversary, July 12 beginning at 1 p.m.

*Heard from Councilperson Madeleine Israel that the County Office for the Aging seeks nominations for the Senior Citizen of the Award.

*Heard that town-wide Clean-up Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents may bring unwanted items—except tires—for free disposal. Tires off the rim are $2 each and on the rim are $5 each. Highway Superintendent Jim MacArthur suggested that participating residents be required to bring a non-perishable food item with them for donation to a local food pantry.

*Heard from former Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Leah Wilcox that she has turned the chairperson reins over to Bonnie Hundt. Mrs. Wilcox has chaired the ZBA since the early 2000s.

*Received a draft of a natural resource conservation plan from Conservation Advisory Council Chair Jamie Purinton.

*Received a draft of a new town fee schedule which pertains to everything from building something to getting married and setting off fireworks.

*Moved $3,000 in the Highway Department budget from repairs to snow removal. The $60,000 snow removal budget was depleted due to the harsh winter.

*Heard from Town Supervisor Art Bassin that Building Inspector Ed Ferratto has expressed increasing worry about the number of unsafe/derelict buildings in town and suggested that a law be enacted that would make the property owner responsible for building demolition. If the property owner does not comply, the law would allow the town to pursue demolition and then charge the cost back to the owners on their tax bill. The law will be a topic of future discussion.

The next Town Board meeting is April 17 with a public hearing on the new ridgeline protection regulation at 6 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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