March 28, 2011

Zone names

I'm still waiting for a new draft of the zoning, but I've had a repeated conversation that seems worth noting even before a new clean draft arrives.

I've had several conversations, two in the last few weeks, about what the Conservation zone is for. There's been an active core of people opposed to the details of that zone, but these weren't people in that core - they were just people wondering what it meant and "how much conservation is really in that zone"?

The short answer is that "conservation zone" here doesn't mean "nature preserve". The long answer, though, is that the word "conservation" suggests a lot more restriction than is really in that zone. Yes, it includes nature preserves, state forests, and wetlands, but it also includes a lot more.

I suspect that a better way to convey what the "conservation zone" actually does is to call it simply "rural". That gets across the point that it's not expected to be intensively developed, but also reflects the reality that the zone allows a wide variety of uses.

Conservation seems the most troublesome zone name, but maybe it's worth reconsidering all the zone names. Perhaps I can propose:

Current nameSuggested name
Neighborhood ResidentialNeighborhood
Rural ResidentialSuburban
Rural AgriculturalAgricultural
Light Industrial / OfficeLight Industrial / Office

Commercial and Hamlet could change for reasons to do with their content, but for now they seem like the clearest names in the set. I can't come up with a clearer or shorter version of Light Industrial / Office, but maybe someone else can.

I'll hold off on comments about the details of these zones until the new draft, but this piece seemed simple enough to discuss in the meantime. (I have a lot to say about the current conservation zone in particular.)

Posted by simon at March 28, 2011 12:14 PM in
Note on photos


KAZ said:

As a wordie by trade, I have trouble differentiating between your "suburban" and "neighborhood," since most suburban areas that I can think of are set up as neighborhoods (think Levittown). I'm not sure what "suburban" means in Dryden unless it refers only to those residents that commute to Ithaca--and I think it would be hard to partition them off from the rest of us. I agree that you might as well take the "rural" off "agricultural." As someone who lives in a "conservation" zone, I eagerly await renaming and am holding out for "idyll."

I worried a bit about "suburban", especially since the word makes a lot of people itch. "Sprawl" has even uglier connotations, though if you can take away the negativity what it describes isn't that far from these uses.

"Neighborhood" as used by the Town is interesting. It's less about the form of the development than about the completeness of the residential development and the general lack of interest of residents in disruption. The "rural residential" is largely about the tolerance/interest of the neighbors for a broader set of permitted development options.

Those make for hard naming choices.

On "conservation", I think it's so severely misleading that it just has to go. "Rural" isn't perfect, but it does a much better job of conveying what that zone is supposed to do. I like "idyll", but doubt it fits with the many Special Use Permit options in the use table. "Automotive Salvage" is probably the least "idyllic", but I'm sure someone disagrees with me.