January 30, 2011

Zoning disputes echoing in the quiet...

I had some good response to my previous fictional forecast of what might happen with zoning, and think it's worth publishing a few more of these. This one seems to fit a quiet Sunday morning very well.

Part of the problem of discussing zoning is that it's a speculative project, and everyone has their own take on their own property and the future of the community. Fiction, oddly, can make those conversations more concrete, bringing some of those unspoken assumptions out and exploring various possibilities just enough to make the zoning more lively than a legal document.


The 2013 battle over zoning was a fight to remember, with four different candidates for supervisor offering very different visions of the direction the Town of Dryden should take. The echoes of that battle resounded over the hills and valleys of Dryden for a long time to come...

because there wasn't very much other noise. Even in 2015, the number of building permits for new construction had fallen to ten, and that was a high for the rest of the decade. The 2020 census reported that the Town had only thirty new residents, mocking the projections thrown around by all sides in 2013.

By 2015, it was clear that the economic recovery, at least in the United States, was going to be permanently jobless. Good years meant that unemployment was stable, not growing. Tompkins County, as usual, did better than the rest of the state and the nation because its colleges remained stabilizers, but even they didn't expand. New startups from Cornell continued to emerge, but rarely got beyond the Airport Technology Park before they moved elsewhere, lured by investors competing to bring business to their area.

Only one new apartment complex - Greenhouse Apartments, near the intersection of 13 and 366 - was built, and then only the first phase of thirty units. Although the county continued to call for denser nodes, most construction activity in the villages and hamlets focused on historic renovation, at a very slow pace. A bright spot was traffic, which smoothed out as gas prices climbed and the TCAT system added routes and runs to cover about half of Dryden driving needs.

The Town's Planning and Zoning Department shrank over time to two employees by 2027. There were periodic calls to revise (or abolish) the zoning to stimulate new growth, but mostly they fell on deaf ears: Dryden residents were doing what they could with what was here.

If you have stories you'd like to tell (or see me tell), let me know, in email or in comments.

Posted by simon at January 30, 2011 7:44 AM in ,
Note on photos