January 4, 2011

Dryden's version of the Civil War (zoning)

No, no - I'm not talking about the current conversations about zoning. Retiring Dryden Zoning Officer Henry Slater tells a rich story of the recent Dryden past in the December Town Newsletter, (1.4MB PDF) including this discussion of zoning:

I first became involved with the Town of Dryden in 1984 when I was appointed to the Town Planning Board. In 1984, Zoning & Planning was a fairly new concept and was an issue that seemed divided in public opinion. The residents seemed either in total support or in total nonsupport, and their numbers were pretty evenly divided.

The initial land use effort began during the mid 1960's concluding with the adoption of the initial Dryden Town Zoning Ordinance in September 1969.

Since many of the people who were involved in the battle of zoning (their words not mine) were still involved in Town government during the mid 1980's. I was privy to many of their accounts of that struggle. The Town had been under pressure to consider Town wide zoning. As I indicated above, there were only two opinions, yes and just say no to zoning. Given the situation, sometime during the mid 1960's the then Town Board appointed a commission to consider the zoning question. The commission was made up from representatives of both sides of the issue.

I am told there were some very heated discussions.

The Town Board, considering the seriousness of the issue, determined some professional assistance was needed. Ultimately grant funds were appropriated to retain the services of an area land use management service, Egner and Niederkorn Associates.

By 1968, the first step in the zoning question was completed (preparation of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan) and Dryden's version of the Civil War was well underway. The plan considered each of the Villages of Dryden and Freeville as well as the Town. Representatives of all (3) communities participated.

I was further told the issue of zoning was so controversial, that some parts of the Town went as far as to ask to be annexed to adjacent Towns depending on zoning status of the adjacent communities.

In general it was so intense that friendships and family relations were strained to the breaking point (Civil War).

Ultimately in September 1969, the Town of Dryden began the era of zoning. The planning commission continued, relationships were patched, and life continued.

The 1968 Comprehensive Plan (The Dryden General Plan) was the basic tool utilized to create the zoning ordinance; however, the 1968 Comprehensive Plan was not ever actually adopted as an official Town document.

Interestingly, to the best of my knowledge, the Town did not have an adopted Comprehensive Plan until December 2005 when the current version was adopted. The 2005 Plan has been utilized to develop a draft replacement zoning ordinance which has reached the Town Board for adoption consideration. This version has not reached Civil War status.

Let's hope we can avoid "Civil War status". There's a lot more in the newsletter, from Henry and others. I'm especially intrigued by Harry Weldon's piece on the Simon Hurd barn, which he's working on a miniature version of.

Posted by simon at January 4, 2011 5:22 PM in ,
Note on photos