The April 7 zoning workshop filled the Haldane auditorium with over 400 persons, for a three hour discussion of the proposed re-zoning of Philipstown. Many came just to voice support or disapproval of the plan while other came with specific comments.
A surprise to many was the requirement for all speakers to sign up prior to the start of the meeting. It is not unusual in a large city for speakers to sign up in advance, but it is the exception rather than the rule in Philipstown and many were caught off guard. The requirement was not widely publicized and the board offered no reason at the meeting. Some received an email notification from the Hudson Highlands Land Trust but most found out upon arrival. The board has not commented since about why this requirement was not broadly advertised.
Though billed as a workshop, the shear numbers in attendance precluded any meaningful back and forth discussion about specific points or issues. Instead it was more a contentious public hearing that often put board members on the spot. Principal concerns expressed against the draft proposal centered around limits which would be imposed on both residential and commercial land owners. Speakers also commented on specific language that might be construed to create onerous restrictions. Other specific sections have not been thoroughly thought out and might also create difficult circumstances for land owners.
Supervisor Shea hopes the board will be able to vote on the new zoning in September and indicated that additional public hearings would be held beforehand.