September 15, 2005

Comprehensive Plan vote tonight

This evening's Town Board meeting includes a vote on the Comprehensive Plan, and one aspect of that plan gets a letter in the Ithaca Journal this morning from Robin Hadlock Seeley, who writes:

Municipal trails proposed for private land violate traditionally recognized property rights and the basic need of individuals and families for privacy. A new state law placing a speed limit of 55 mph on snowmobiles and increasing fines for ATV use on posted land indicates some of the potential problems for landowners if municipal trails are placed on private property.

The proposed comprehensive plan does not include any protection for landowners, including farmers, against the taking of private land for trails through eminent domain. The trails portion of the plan should be rejected by the Dryden Town Board.

If there's room for public comment tonight, I'll be disagreeing firmly with this perspective. It's not the job of the plan to protect landowners from eminent domain - that's the job of federal and state law, not to mention the town board itself. As anyone who has watched the slow progress of the Freeville-Dryden trail can tell, it's hardly a matter of seizing land from its owners to put up a trail, and that's in a circumstance - a former rail bed - where resources are readily available explicitly to encourage the development of trails.

Moreover, the trails beyond the railroad beds are designated as footpaths, not homes for ATVs or snowmobiles, whose riders generally prefer wider paths. And as the note on the proposed trail map (294KB PDF) itself reads:

This map illustrates a conceptual plan for a system of bicycle and pedestrian paths in the Town of Dryden. The actual alignments of the paths shown on this map will be determined only after further detailed studies and public input prior to a final decision by the Town to proceed with development.

Also on the opinion page, Cheryl Nelson of Freeville writes of the persistent smell of her neighbors burning trash:

I live on Groton Road between Groton and Freeville. It is a rural area. Along this stretch of road, my family is one of only two that put out recyclables for curbside pickup. We have a Dumpster service for our non-recyclable trash. Two other households occasionally have trash at the curb for pickup. So what do the rest of the households do with their trash? Several times a week, our home is permeated with the smell of burning trash. It is especially problematic during the nice weather months when the windows are open. By the time the odor is detected, the whole house is saturated, and it is accelerated when window fans are operating.

I have a son who has had chronic kidney disease for 21 years and during that time he has received two kidney transplants. He also has asthma. The stench of this burning trash from the houses around us is sickening, irritates the eyes, and makes it difficult to breath especially for him, but even for the rest of us without chronic illness. ...

As a rural citizen, I fully support the ban on open burning and strong enforcement. With all of the recyclable materials used today and available to consumers, curbside recycling pickup, trash pickup vendor options, composting, and all other reduce, reuse, and recycle options promoted by the Tompkins County Solid Waste Division, there is no excuse for people to burn their debris at the expense of their health, others health, and the environment.

The Journal's editorial mostly supports a burn ban but objects to missing pieces in the county's recycling program for plastics, especially agfilms.

There's also an article on the drafting of the county budget.

Posted by simon at September 15, 2005 8:44 AM in ,
Note on photos