Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Parochial" Planning in New Hartford?

The Observer Dispatch gets it wrong again with its editorial Our view: New Hartford should rescind planning law - AT ISSUE: Pick board members based on what they know, not where they live

The editors at the OD have proclaimed the Town of New Hartford's 1996 law which requires the Town’s Planning Board to include a member from the villages of New Hartford and New York Mills as being "simply bad policy" because:
* Planning board members should be appointed based on what they know, not where they live in the town. . . . 
* Parochial appointments to municipal boards make no sense. . . . 
While having knowledgeable members could be a plus, planning board work is not "rocket science" and does not demand any particular expertise.  What it demands are dedicated members who are willing to put in the time to educate themselves about the issues . . . and people who are not afraid to think for themselves.

In a Town as diverse as New Hartford, guaranteed membership from the Villages makes PERFECT sense.  "Here's why:"
* Village residents reside in densely populated areas with an older public infrastructure when compared with the rest of the Town.  The needs of Village residents are, thus, distinctly different from the unincorporated areas of the Town.
* Village residents subsidize most of the Town's operations because Village residents get their services directly through their villages, yet have to pay the Town to provide the same services for other Town residents.  For example, Village residents pay the Village to plow their own streets, but have to pay the Town to plow the Town's roads.
The Planning Board determines which projects get built in the Town, impacting the demand for Town services. As the demand for duplicative Town services increases, Village residents' subsidy of Town services increases. Village residents should have a voice in determining those projects they subsidize. In addition, projects in outlying areas of the Town are often sprawl, drawing people and economic activity out of the Villages. Fewer people in the Villages causes higher taxes in the Villages because their infrastructure is already built and does not shrink with decreasing population.

The Parochialism complained of . . . is really on the part of the OD editors . . . They invariably take the viewpoint that favors further development in the Town.

Until the OD editors understand that the denser-populated areas (Utica and the Villages)  have been subsidizing development in unincorporated Town areas for the last 50 years, they will continue to back bad public policy decisions -- such as the proposal to remove the village resident requirement.

Speaking about New Hartford, New Hartford Online has an update on the New Hartford Business Park. Guess what? More taxpayer subsidies!


RPP said...

It's just another in the long line of silly OD editorials. Implicit in its position is that well qualified people cannot be found in the village.Given their logic, why would any elected or appointed person need to be a resident of an entity? I guess I, a New Hartford rsident will run for Mayor of Utica. If successful I could at least raise the OD's taxes.

Anonymous said...

Just another example of the blatant love affair between the OD and the NH Town Board. Just look at what the concerned Citizens report on their blog for stories they either miss... or ignor