Many of the Town of Gardiner’s priority projects and issues from past years were achieved or resolved in 2022, including replacing the unsafe Clove Road Bridge, adopting a Natural Resource Inventory and maps, approving construction of a new cell tower and passage of a referendum approving adoption of a Community Preservation Fund and real estate transfer tax. Other long-debated issues saw noteworthy progress toward resolution in the foreseeable future.
Of all the work on the Town Board’s plate in recent years, updating Gardiner’s 2004 Comprehensive Plan was the lengthiest and most ambitious undertaking – and one that needed to be completed before a number of other priorities could be addressed. The new Comp Plan was finalized in May 2022, and Town officials’ next major step will be to rewrite the language of the Zoning Code so as to eliminate any conflicts with it.
Zoning Code update
Asked what’s looming on her horizon as Town supervisor, Marybeth Majestic identified four issues as her most pressing priorities for 2023. At the top of her list is to “align our existing Zoning Code with the goals and recommendations in our newly adopted Comprehensive Plan. Dave Church, who is assisting the Town Board with this effort, has been reaching out to the various boards, committees and commission to help identify areas of concern for us to focus our efforts on.”
Gardiner’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals have long urged modernization of the terminology of the code and eliminating existing conflicts and contradictions, but this update will also pave the way for new strategies responding to the needs of changing times. “I feel strongly that the Town Board needs to establish a Housing Advisory Committee to help us deal with affordability issues,” Majestic says. “Other items that I see being addressed are zoning for cannabis and regulating short-term rentals.”
Indeed, the oft-rewritten wording of a proposed Short-Term Rental Law has proven a controversial topic in the Town for the past several years. Updating the definitions of diverse types of rental units in the code may smooth the Town Board’s path toward actually adopting such a local law in the year to come – not to mention help it cope with development pressures related to campgrounds and “glamping” resorts.
Other high priorities
Here are the rest of the most urgent matters on the supervisor’s to-do list for 2023:
“2. Decide on the Lazy River Campground Floating District application in order to establish more control.
“3. Improve enforcement procedures by increasing building and code enforcement staffing.
“4. Invest in a new financial management system that provides improved control of the Town’s financial management and annual budgeting.”
Other areas where “there is work to be done” in the coming year, according to Majestic, include fulfilling several infrastructure needs: “I am pleased to report that the upgrade on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is nearly complete, and it is a wonderful addition to town. We will improve the sewer treatment system serving the central hamlet. We have received a grant from Ulster County that will cover one-third of the expense, and our engineering firm is currently working on the bid documents. We hope to go out to bid in early 2023. Construction on the cell tower at the Town Highway Garage will begin in the spring of 2023.”
Majestic is also looking forward to continuing progress toward this highly scenic township’s long-term goals for open space preservation: “On February 1, the Town will be implementing a 1.25 percent Real Estate Transfer Tax for new homebuyers. Monies raised from this tax will go into a dedicated fund to help us protect and increase our open space and essential resources like drinking water. We will establish a Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board to assist with this effort.”
In short, Majestic and the rest of the Town Board have their work cut out for them in the coming year, but many previously confounding obstacles have been cleared out of their way. Says the supervisor, “I am excited to hit the ground running in 2023 to accomplish the numerous tasks before us.”