Once again, Gardiner nixes moratorium suggested by cabin-resort project opponents

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Proponents of an immediate moratorium against the issuance of building permits for so-called “glamping” facilities in Gardiner once again went home empty-handed after the October 10 town board meeting. The board opted instead to take “an alternate tack,” in the words of councilwoman Laura Walls, in response to calls from residents for updates to the town’s zoning code to reflect contemporary development pressures.

Town board members reviewed a memorandum from the town’s attorney, Dave Brennan of Young/Summer LLC, providing an “Outline for Proposed Review/Analysis of Town Code.” Specifically, the document calls for review of Chapters 200 and 220 of the zoning code, with an eye toward updating definitions of such terms as “lodging facility” and “tourist camp” and the regulations and standards that apply to such developments. Recommendations based on this review process would identify areas “where existing code provisions conflict and/or cannot be harmonized” or “where a proposed use may go unregulated under existing code provisions,” as well as “what, if any, amendments could be adopted to address unregulated/underregulated uses or to resolve ambiguities or conflicts in existing law.”

“I think this is a great start,” said Walls. “Perhaps the planning board would want to weigh in on this” regarding “any intricacies that we haven’t discussed.” She listed several lodging trends that were not anticipated at the time that the code last underwent major revision, in 2008, including Airbnb, camping apps like Tentrr and the “tiny house” movement. Walls also recommended seeking further public input regarding “things that can affect neighborhoods and communities.”

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“Is campground zoning the limit of what the attorney is going to look at?” asked planning board member Warren Wiegand, noting that “other issues have been raised” in the past in terms of loopholes, vague definitions, inconsistencies and even outright contradictions in the zoning code. “This would be a good opportunity to cast a wider net.”

“If we don’t limit the scope of what we’re going to do right now, we might lose focus,” responded town supervisor Marybeth Majestic, noting that only $1,600 to $2,000 had been budgeted toward the law firm’s analysis. She promised to send Brennan’s memo to both the planning board and zoning board of appeals for review, and also to post it on the town website and solicit public comments. “We should ask for feedback before the end of the year,” Majestic said. The supervisor recommended convening “a tri-board meeting at least once a year,” with planning and zoning officials joining in at a town board meeting, at which public input on zoning law could be solicited.

Opponents of Heartwood, the controversial current proposal for an eco-cabin resort bordering the Shawangunk Kill in the Tuthilltown hamlet, continued to press the town board to put a “glamping” moratorium to a vote. Noting that under state municipal law, “the board must have a specific reason for requesting a moratorium,” Gardiner resident Bridget Regan suggested that the Young/Summer memo “provides the structure” for doing so. But board members maintained their reluctance to tread on territory that might open the town to a costly lawsuit if a moratorium could be shown to target a particular proposal already under consideration under the existing code. “No one at this table is prepared to bring forth a moratorium resolution,” Walls told audience members who demanded to know how prospective tweaks to zoning code language might “modify or alter Heartwood.”

There are 6 comments

  1. UpstateGuy

    Thank you! The NIMBY culture is out of control. Just because you were here first doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t get a chance to give it their best. Approve this and build it. Thanks.

  2. Taxed out in Gardiner NY

    This is total nonsense. There needs way more lodging in the Town of Gardiner. There is tourism here, with people going to the mountains, and skydiving, just to name a couple of reasons why Gardiner needs lodging. The Sand Hill Airport(skydive the ranch) has been allowed to operate as an illegal campground for years. We are talking hundreds of campers on any given weekend over the summer months. They have non permitted mass gatherings regularly with fireworks and all the noise that goes with it, I know, I live a mile from there, and the entire town was kept awake a couple weeks ago for a huge non permitted gathering at the airport. So if anyone who lives in Gardiner can violate the town zoning laws already, then why not allow a camping resort and for that matter, turn back the 5 acre zoning implemented in 2008 to the 2 acre zoning it was when I came Gardiner in 1993. The town wants to AGAIN raise taxes to an unacceptable level, and they won’t allow people to build here without a huge hassle. The taxes would get more money if Gardiner would loosen up on building here. Approve this project. We need way more lodging and Restaurants and a Gas station in Gardiner NY. Not allowing Stewarts in the Village several years back, just because the Gardiner Superette was for sale at the time, and the former owners Campaigned hard against it and won ! Sheesh !

    1. The New Guy

      Wow, I did not know about this. Really sad to hear that Stewart’s was driven out. Recently bought our home in Gardiner after ~10 years renting in the area (wife is HV native, I’m from Lake George area). Sad that I have to drive 15+ minutes out of the way to Stewart’s in Modena, and past a whole block of inexplicably dead empty buildings in downtown Gardiner – mission accomplished, I guess? I recently wondered aloud “why can’t I buy a gallon of milk downtown?” I guess this answers why. (And maybe I can buy that gallon of milk downtown, but it’s not obvious where to a newcomer. Feel free to berate me in the comments. )

  3. Steven L Fornal

    Imposing a moratorium now without honoring Heartwood having already applied would be to invite a lawsuit The town would unlikely be able to prevail. At the very least the town would have to have an appeal element for cases to be made by those applicants already in the pipeline.

    As long as the Planning Board takes care in assuring impacts would be mitigated, there is no reason for this project not to go forward. It seems a perfect fit for the area. Bringing in taxes (as long as the principals don’t get a PILOT program to avoid paying same), bringing in tourists that will spend dollars in the community and maybe entice future residency.

    People, by and large, abhor change. But people cannot expect to have things remains the same if the property that surrounds them is owned by other people. The only way residents can guarantee the residential quality of their lives is to be rich (buying up all surrounding property) or via zoning. What is proposed seems to fit the town’s zoning for that district. It is a well-thought out project.

    The people of Gardiner should be welcoming Heartwood.

  4. Gardiner residents woes

    Changing the 2 acre zoning in the town of Gardiner NY to 5 acre zoning in 2008 was horrible for the community and the people who purchased property in previously in Gardiner to build more then one home on their already owned property of less then 10 acres. Suddenly, after that change, you can only build one home, and the property owners and the town taxes loose a fortune on that said property by not being allowed to build a second home. OR in my case, I could not have my family member build a second house on my property. OR even subdivide it so they could do so. Gardiner has screwed itself with the 2008 RE zoning. Which in turn has forced the people of the town of Gardiner to pay enormous tax increases every year since. Don’t you think if there were more homes and businesses in Gardiner, that they would be paying property taxes which would help the town ? ? What is wrong with some structured changes in the town ? Open space is one thing, but not wanting people who own property to build due to changing the zoning, is a disgrace. REzoning a town just to keep others out, is not accepting change in any way. I have lived here for almost 60 years, Gardiner needs a way better plan to welcome people here. Why not capitalize on the tourism industry that wants to come here instead of keeping them out and making these nice people spend their money elsewhere ? Making Stewarts abandon their build here a few years ago was a huge mistake.

  5. Hotel Room Tax?

    Does this plan include a occupancy tax or similar hotel room tax for the town? This type of direct income stream to the town may be exactly what these plans are lacking. This would benefit ALL residents of Gardiner, not just the hardware store owner, pizza shop owner or the deli owner that would stand to make the most from the increase in tourists. Where ever I go on vacation I get charged a 6-11% hotel room tax. Do the same here to lower the tax burden on residents and make the deal more palatable.

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