September 10, 2010

Journal reports on zoning process

I know I haven't had much kind to say about the Ithaca Journal lately, but Rachel Stern really hits one out of the park with her report on Wednesday's Town Board meeting on zoning. I'd written that:

the only other person from the public there was from the Ithaca Journal, and while I was very glad to see them there, this wasn't a meeting that really leant itself to exciting story-telling.

Fortunately, Stern doesn't focus much on the minutiae of the meeting, except to note some questions about "local law" vs. "ordinance" that give some flavor of what it was like. Instead, she reports on what Town Board members have to say about the process, in interviews I'm guessing she did afterward:

"We want to make sure we find all the details that are wrong," Sumner said. "Even as familiar as we are with it, sometimes it's like, 'Oh dear, we didn't think about that.' It's complicated."

It is her "fantasy," or goal, that the review will be completed and the board is prepared to vote by January....

"We will be done when it's ready," Deputy Supervisor David Makar said. "We want to be thorough because it has a big impact on the town."...

Stelick, who estimated the board got through 20 pages of the document Wednesday night. "But you learn patience because this is going to be local law. This affects a lot of people."

There's a lot more there, as she explains the context, the timing, and some of what got done, but those quotes at least convey a bigger story than editing line by line. The only glitch is that she reports no residents were present, which is sadly almost true. I'm guessing she counted me as "media" rather than "resident". More people really should be at these, even if, as Steve Stelick all too correctly says, "I am in my ninth year [on the Town Board], but earlier on I would have lost consciousness."

The comments about "done when it's ready" make me happy, but I worry - and said I was worried at the end of the meeting - about the focus on details. While the details certainly need polishing, and there's some simple pruning that can make the law more readable, I don't think the law is anywhere near ready for this kind of final polishing. The board seemed Wednesday to accept its task as cleanup, without much response to the pretty ferocious comments they've heard.

The one piece they've (wisely) recognized needs more than polishing is the zoning in Varna, but there are plenty of other large issues in the rest of the document. Hopefully they'll notice them while wordsmithing.

Posted by simon at September 10, 2010 5:15 PM in ,
Note on photos