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Town of Schoharie eyes non-residential building moratorium

Saturday, April 19, 2014
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— The town of Schoharie is considering an eight-month, non-residential building moratorium to give town officials time to fix the town’s zoning laws, Supervisor Gene Milone said.

The move comes in response to a February ruling from a judge that invalidated the town’s 2005 update to its zoning because of mistakes made in passing it.

The result of the ruling was that the town’s land use laws were reset to what they were in 1975.

The Town Board is set to consider the moratorium Wednesday at a meeting set for 7 p.m. at the town offices. A public hearing on the issue was held previously.

Milone said he expects the eight-month window to be more than enough to make the necessary changes to the zoning law.

He noted that the 2005 effort was the result of work by residents and committees.

“My position on the whole issue from the very beginning is that I intend to fully uphold the will of the people,” Milone said.

The 2005 zoning was invalidated as a result of a lawsuit brought by Cobleskill Stone Products. The 2005 zoning change coincided with the mining company’s application to expand mining into 69 acres near the existing 87-acre mine off Rickard Hill Road.

The February decision came from state Supreme Court Justice Eugene P. Devine, who found the town made mistakes when it adopted its provisions, making the changes invalid. In his decision, he agreed with Cobleskill Stone Products’ contention that the town didn’t follow the precise steps set forth in state law as it relates to the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

SEQRA requires municipalities to consider the environment and any potential impacts their actions can have on the environment, and to mitigate those impacts.

Devine ruled the town didn’t do enough when coming to its conclusion on impacts, and that the town’s environmental documents lacked rationale for other changes.

Company officials said in February that, despite the decision, they expected litigation over the expansion to continue.

 
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