Sometimes Woodstock land use issues are major, pitting a liberal community against the massiveness of a Tibetan-style monastery on an historic mountain, say, or a community of long-term rentals against new hotels and short-term vacationers.
But then there are the neighbor-on-neighbor disputes that grow as neighbors draw on non-neighborly emotions. Affordable housing comes into the crosshairs, or legal disputes over lot lines and legal elements that need a judicial entity to sort through.
Which appears to be what emerged at the Woodstock Planning Board’s June 20 meeting, where a pair of public hearings had been scheduled on subdivision matters involving properties on, as well as under, Yankeetown Pond. And a standing room only crowd of emotionally-engaged Woodstockers and Woodstock friends came out to voice concerns.
According to one we know who put out the call for attendance last Thursday, the hearing was “quite contentious, with many animated exchanges. The room was packed with people with high emotions. It’s a complicated story and will continue.”
They described the issue as regarding “subdivision of the western portion of the pond recently acquired by Erin (Kathleen) Moran, to be sold to Colby Reynolds.”
The Planning Board’s agenda described the public hearings as focusing on a “Minor Subdivision application to legalize an Illegal subdivision of three acres from 23.80 acres in the R3 Zoning District located at Yankeetown Pond (underwater land)” and a “Lot Line Revision application to combine two lots: 3 acres from subdivision legalization… and 3.08 acres resulting in 1 lot of 6.08 acres in the R3 Zoning District located.”
“We’re not going to decide this,” said Planning Board Chairman John LaValle this week of the issue. “We’re not a judicial board.”
He added that the planning board recessed the public hearings last week but has yet to decide how to formally make its decision moving forward. And they all duly noted the divided nature of the SRO crowd who showed up last week.
Would they be referring the matter to their attorney, we asked?
“Even that is in debate,” said LaValle. “there’s a lot of data to sift through and we don’t have an escrow to cover such costs.”
Lavalle went on to describe the current Yankeetown Pond issue as “a private dispute between individuals” that was “the very definition of a quagmire,” what with some of the disputed property underwater, that in the end was “a judicial matter that should be in court, and likely State Supreme Court.” He pointed out the fact that there were competing land ownership abstracts and quit claim checks involved, and most of those in attendance didn’t seem to understand that they were speaking about the issue “in the wrong forum.”
“No one seemed to understand what we do on a planning board,” the Woodstock Planning Board’s chairman concluded. “They need a different way out.”
The next planning board meeting, where the recessed public hearings from last week will be reopened, is scheduled for July 18.