Division over subdivision

B y Jaime Thomas

The town of Granville remains divided about subdivision.

A month after an intense and lengthy discussion about changes to recently updated subdivision regulations, members of the town board and the public found more problems with the law.

The town board held a public hearing Thursday night to address the issue, and this time, members of the public showed.

Councilman Matt Rathbun once again opened up the discussion with issues he had found with the updated regulations.

“If I have 100 acres and break some of it up and then do that again a year later, is that major?” he asked, pointing out that a resident could break a parcel up three times and then do that again year after year, without going through the major subdivision process. After some talk, town Attorney Mike Catalfimo said he would change the wording to prevent such an instance.

“The intent is to say, ‘if you want to play that game of three and three and three, you’re going to have to wait three years and a day,’” Catalfimo said.

Michael Craig Campbell, a local real estate agent, soon cut in to voice his opinion on the law. He said that he strongly opposed a major subdivision requirement that a developer either set aside a shared park area of at least 1,000 square feet per lot or make a payment in lieu of land.

“Boy, if the economy’s not bad enough, let’s take what’s left of it and shoot it in the head,” Campbell said. He thought the law meant up to 50 percent might have to be set aside, but Town Supervisor Matt Hicks told him it would only be up to 10 percent.

On Friday, Hicks said the Secretary of State’s office suggested the park requirement, and the planning board chose to stick with it.

“It’s not a huge piece of land. If someone has five five-acre lots, and it’s 1,000 square feet per lot to be set aside as communal, that’s only an eighth of an acre,” he said.

Campbell indicated he didn’t think the board was open enough about these changes and said they needed to get the information to the public.

“I think landowners, especially farmers, need to know,” Campbell said.

“We’ve been working on this for almost a year,” Hicks said, pointing out the public hearings were advertised and covered in the Sentinel. John Norton, planning board member, agreed.

“It’s been available for months. You’re a real estate agent, and you should’ve known about it,” Norton said to Campbell. But he was not appeased.

“Why does the town even have the right to say I might want you to give 10 percent of your property to the town? To me that seems downright greedy,” Campbell said. “Who decides that?”

Hicks told him the town planning board would make such a decision during a major subdivision.

“Wow, isn’t that nice,” Campbell said, going on to contest the town board’s right to set the fee in lieu of land in January. “I think a fee needs to be defined. That’s like saying your school taxes will be $10,000 if we want it to be.”

“I can’t disagree with you more,” Hicks said. “We set fees at a public meeting every year.” The discussion remained heated and Norton suggested the planning board and town board get together to go through the regulations before the next public hearing. Rathbun said no one cared enough to attend last month’s meeting or read the material.

“Nobody in this town’s read this,” he said, pointing to the regulations, as Campbell continued to contest the rules.

“This could have some real serious impact on people’s ability to sell property,” he said.

“I think you’re overreacting. Don’t make judgments until you read it,” Hicks told him. The board then adjourned the public hearing until September, when more members of the planning board will be present, but had not set a date as of Tuesday.

 

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