Petition and Q&A
WERD has prepared a petition for submitting to the Wawarsing Town Board. The text of the petition is:
"As a resident of the Town of Wawarsing, I want the Town Board to fully study the possible impacts of new, large-scale developments to our economy, community, and environment, so that appropriate protections for the Town be added to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code."Several hundred names have already been collected and presented to the Board at recent Board meetings; more are being collected and will be submitted at future meetings. In addition to petitions being carried by members of WERD and other interested parties, petitions are available at Lock 31, Image, Top Shelf, and Aroma Thyme.
Forms can also be downloaded at http://w-e-r-d.org/forms/petition.pdf
Please contact Steve Krulick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-647-2868 if you've been collecting names so he can collect the completed petitions for presentation.
An additional Q&A sheet is available at http://w-e-r-d.org/forms/explanation.pdf the text of which follows:
1) Is this an anti-Wal-Mart petition?
No. The WERD pro-study petition to the Town Board is NOT an anti-Wal-Mart petition. Wal-Mart isn’t even mentioned. Although the possible arrival to the Napanoch Mall of a Wal-Mart Supercenter (over 100,000 square feet) was the trigger that raised concerns, that is just one of the potential large-scale developments that could eventually come before the Town’s Planning Board without the Town having adequate protections and leverage in place to address these unprecedented types of projects and their impacts.
2) Is this a petition for a moratorium?
No. A temporary development moratorium for the Town (to not accept any applications from large retail projects for six months while studies are being done) has been submitted to the Town Board. Such a moratorium would make it easier for the Board to do proper studies without undue pressure, and would allow any implemented protections the studies recommend to be applicable to future potential applicants; without the moratorium, applicants would be able to apply under existing, weaker provisions.
However, even without a moratorium, the Town Board (and the Planning Board, Zoning Board, and Comprehensive Plan Panel) would be advised to begin studying, without delay, the existing examples of what other communities have learned, and the resulting steps they’ve taken, and review and fix any deficiencies in the existing Comprehensive Plan and zoning code. (Much of this is conveniently available at the w-e-r-d.org website.) Contacting knowledgeable officials from affected communities (and independent expert consultants) would also be prudent, rather than just depending on personal beliefs and mere assumptions.
3) The petition wants the Town to “fully study” possible impacts. What types of impacts?
Although most zoning codes deal to some extent with issues of height, density, traffic, parking, and obvious pollution, they are unlikely to address the scale of impacts from newer, larger projects never before imagined. Sometimes, the sheer size of a project is visibly out-of-place in a small-town rural community, as well as in more tangible ways: increases in traffic, water & sewer needs, water runoff, crime, court caseloads, road maintenance, emergency responses, light & noise pollution. Who will pay for these new or increased problems? If the zoning code is silent, or the Town has no leverage, what would force the developer to pay? This should be studied.
Sometimes, the costs to a community will be greater than the supposed tax revenues, particularly if the project is given tax breaks, or has a history of avoiding its fair tax share (or if reduced property values or smaller tax base eats up the gains). Who will make up the difference, if not the other taxpayers? This, too, should be studied.
Most zoning codes simply ignore the direct and indirect economic & community impacts. What businesses and jobs might be adversely affected, even to the point of disappearing? How will that affect property values, the tax base, the sight of more empty storefronts (with nobody interested in moving in), the loss of local contributions of time and money from long-term businesses and their owners? How will this increase welfare and health costs? Will the existing taxpayers be asked to pay more? This, too, should be studied.
4) What protections can be implemented?
Different communities have taken different steps, and this should be part of the study process; possible actions to study & implement may include:
- – A moratorium is often the first step, to temporarily buy time to do a more thorough study.
- – Reviewing the Comp Plan and Zoning Code will show where deficiencies may lie… Are large-scale developments even mentioned or discussed? Is there a size limit to any structures? Are developers required to pay for studies, or for the negative impacts the studies reveal, or that may eventually appear? Will the developer have to bond or pay costs to convert or remove the building if it’s abandoned?
- – A size-trigger that requires any development over a certain size to pay for an economic & community impact analysis, weighing all the positives and negatives, to be conducted by an independent analyst of the Town’s choosing.
- – A size cap that says no building over a certain size can be built, unless it proves that the negatives don’t outweigh the positives, or goes through additional hurdles, such as needing approval from all Town Boards and neighboring municipalities that may be affected.
- – Stronger environmental protections that include water runoff, effects on existing water & sewer supply, lights shining into residences, noise from trucks and equipment, storage of materials, vehicle exhaust and leakage, scenic blight, etc.
5) Is this petition a binding, legal document?
No. It is advisory only. Whether you are for or against Wal-Mart or any large-scale developments, surely you want the Town to be as protected as possible from any negative impacts, including costs that could result in increased taxes! If you reside in Wawarsing, your opinion matters!
For more information:
Go to www.w-e-r-d.org or phone 845-647-2868.