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Friday, January 20, 2012

Luiz Aragon's View of how to Use Your Land (let your neighbors use it)

Luiz Aragon's full email, and what it really means (what I love most is he confidently cites sources from 1999, 2002, 2003, and 1996, like the world has not drastically changed since those text books were written) -

"While Lumberland has an abundance of open space, the predominance of the land is in private ownership. A whittling away of this open space through conventional subdivision, even into large lots, would result in a suburban style community not in keeping with the parameters set forth in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. "

Lumberland has been around for 200 years, and surprisingly, it is no more cut up or subdivided than it was 200 yrs ago. There have been a total of 3 subdivision plans approved by the Lumberland Town Planning Board in 2011, resulting in 7 building lots. Very little 'whittling' by any measure.

"All communities were once an abundance of open space, including cities and suburbs. Once rural areas have become monotonous suburbs resulting in the degradation of qualities Lumberland seeks to preserve. Even in the case of large lot subdivision, the open space is still not protected, and can result in a suburban feel."

He knows how to use the land better than we do? Where exactly are the qualities being degraded? I think most people would agree the limited development that does happen helps businesses like his and others survive.

"Conservation subdivision ... is a development strategy strongly connected to preservation of rural areas"

What he forgets to mention is that preservation is necessary where there is growth pressure. There is no growth pressure in Lumberland, and western/southern Sullivan county has never seen a development boom because we are too far away from anything to be a bedroom community.

"Conservation subdivision is currently a part of the Town’s zoning law, and the Planning Board currently has the right to require a conservation subdivision from a developer proposing to subdivide property."

Very true, and this option should remain that way - it should not be mandated.

"Research shows that homes in conservation subdivisions sell faster, sell for more, and can save on construction costs when compared to similar homes . In South Kingston, Rhode Island, lots in conservation subdivisions cost an average of $7,400 less to produce and sold in about half the time compared to lots in conventional subdivisions. In 2009, researchers in Iowa determined that developers underestimated the importance that potential home buyers place on open space. Residents responded they would be willing to pay up to $2,000 more for homes with proximity to open space."

Absolutely frightening baloney. Why look to Iowa? Luiz has so little understanding of these communities he lives in that he is comparing us to Rhode Island, and Iowa. Sullivan County is a very unique place.

"It is a misconception that everyone wants their own 5 acres."

I'm just wondering how much real estate has sold up here that has enabled him to come up with this outrageous statement. People actually want more, not less, in my opinion. I don't know of a single client out of 200 that we have that want to share their land.

"For those potential buyers who ask for 5 acres, it is important to know what that 5 acres represents, since many of the qualities a purchaser expects from a 5 acre parcel, will not be protected or delivered by a 5 acre parcel. "

It's called getting out of your car with your real estate agent or builder and looking at the land.

"For home-buyers, the open space is a valuable amenity for aesthetic and recreational reasons, as well as for economic reasons. Homes in conservation subdivisions tend to appreciate faster than comparable homes in conventional subdivisions and to sell for higher prices than similar homes on larger lots in subdivisions without significant open space amenities. Buyers are willing to pay more for land adjacent to protected greenspace. Homes in conservation subdivisions, despite smaller lot sizes, can sell for significantly more than those in conventional developments."

Very irresponsible statement with little current evidence of being true.

"Buyers are willing to pay more for land adjacent to protected greenspace. "

Not when it's their backyard that they are paying taxes on. People enjoy private property.

"Other points about conservation subdivisions.

• The cost of developing the lots can be reduced, which can support the inclusion of some affordable housing units as part of the development project."

(Affordable Housing in a rural subdivision geared to second homeowners - frighteningly stupid idea).

"• Future service costs for public infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and water lines, are lower because roads and water/sewer lines can be shorter."

(We don't have public infrastructure, sewers, waterlines - duh)

"• Property values within conservation subdivisions can appreciate faster than properties in conventional subdivisions due to the added amenities provided by the adjacent open space."

(Absolutely not true in this area)

"• Residents enjoy the recreational opportunities and views provided by the preserved open space."

(With over 100,000 acres of protected land within 15 minutes of Lumberland, do we really need to take people's back yards as well?)

"• A larger network of protected areas and open space can be created if open space is connected across several developments and potentially support trail networks for walking, biking, and hiking."

(So instead of enjoying the woods, let's make trails)

"• The clustering of houses can encourage more walking and more frequent interaction with ones’ neighbors, fostering a stronger sense of community"

(Communities aren't forced - they are made organically, and from what I have seen, people aren't coming up here to unvoluntarily get to know their neighbor who is walking through their open space in their back yard).

The total and complete lack of appreciation of why people move to the area. Yes, everything he says has a time and place, but the time is not now and the place is most definitely not Sullivan County, or more specifically, Lumberland NY.

The one result of Fritz Mayer's River Reporter article is that we finally have some honesty from Luiz Aragon and his Planning Department - finally he is fessing up to believing in these development theories instead of running from them like he has been.

Bottomline, Lumberland has done such a terrible job over the last 200 years that we need Luiz to come in and save us from ourselves with development models that don't work?

Really? At least no other town will let the Planning Department in the door after this email. Sadly, Luiz probably doesn't even realize how insulting these ideas are to the average citizen of Lumberland.

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