After a number of cases where Woodstock homeowners violated restrictions meant to preserve the town’s mountain views, former planning-board member Conor Wenk and other members of the town zoning revision committee have proposed changes to tighten up the law and increase penalties. The scenic overlay zoning district includes properties located at or greater than 1200 feet above sea level.
“It would be wonderful to move through the process at a speed that we don’t lose the whole next summer season of losing all the trees in the scenic overlay,” said councilperson Laura Ricci, who chairs the committee.
Proposed revisions for the scenic overlay district include the minimization of cut-and-fill activity and the restoration of effective vegetation in disturbed areas. It also calls for the use of building materials, colors and textures designed to blend with the natural environment.
Non-essential tree removal or topping and limbing of trees within the district without a special-use permit will be punishable by a fine of up to $5000 per day. “Non-essential” includes cutting that has no fundamental impact on safety and buildability.
The planning board may require an applicant to supply drone footage supplied by a licensed operator of the entire impacted area prior to approval, and again after completion of the project.
Councilman Bennet Ratcliff complimented those who worked on the law. “I think that protecting the forest canopy in the entire Northeast is extremely important,” Ratcliff said. “What we can do here in the municipality of Woodstock in 69 square miles here in any little way adds to that canopy. So thank you very much for doing that.”
The town board unanimously authorized town supervisor Bill McKenna to forward the proposed changes to the town and county planning boards for review.