Letter: Mayor Responds

In your July 6 article, Developer Sues Philipstown Over Denial of Variances for House, Susan Green claims that I politically influenced the decision of the Philipstown Zoning Board of Appeals to decline her request for variances so she could build a home on property she owns on Douglas Lane.

This claim is baseless and absurd and demeans the integrity of the ZBA. My comments to the ZBA were not political but sensible. The extent of the variances sought by Ms. Green were breathtaking.

An experienced developer, she purchased a 1.3-acre parcel co-located in the Village of Nelsonville and Town of Philipstown. Nelsonville’s zoning for this location requires 2 acres and Philipstown requires 10 acres. I stated to the ZBA that, as a matter of public policy, granting the extensive variances requested by Ms. Green would mean we have no zoning.

A developer is suing Philipstown over the ZBA’s refusal to grant variances for building a house on a meadow-like property on Douglas Lane. (File photo by L.S. Armstrong)

My advocacy of more stringent zoning enforcement is not a recent position — more than 20 years ago, when I was chairman of Nelsonville’s Planning Board, we stopped a developer who wanted to build more than 100 condo units in the village.

On a personal level, I specifically objected to granting Ms. Green a variance with respect to “impervious surface” requirements. Up to 10 percent impervious surface is allowed; Green wanted to have approval for 25 percent. I live across Moffatt Road from the Green property. We already get substantial run-off from the Green property to the extent a 6-inch trench was cut in my lawn directly adjacent to my well. I fear that, given the small lot and impervious surface, my well water could be contaminated by septic run-off.

The engineer/surveyor retained by Green countered my objection by stating the property had approval from the Putnam County Health Department. Tell that to the people in the eastern part of the county who, I learned at a recent conference hosted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are experiencing toxic algal blooms most likely caused by septic-system leakage.

Bill O’Neill, Nelsonville
O’Neill is the mayor of Nelsonville.


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