Construction moratorium in Varna?

In the March 8th Ithaca Journal (comments by Henry Kramer):

VARNA -- Residents here are pushing for a nine-month moratorium on new construction in the hamlet to force proposed developments like Stephen Lucente's 250-unit townhouse complex to adhere to updated zoning requirements when they are considered for approval by the Town of Dryden.

First, a legal issue. I wonder if the town can put into place a moratorium for just one part of the town or would they have to do it for all of us?  I don't know.  I am somewhat concerned about Varna driving the rest of the town.

Second, the article assumes pretty much that the proposed zoning changes will become law.  That assumption is not helpful to those who would like to stop or substantially alter the huge transfer of power from homeowner to government they are planning for us.

[...] The petition to enact a moratorium, which had at least 23 signatures since late last week, would enable the town and residents to finish the Varna Master Plan, an element of the Town of Dryden's proposed zoning code revisions, before new developments can be considered.

The master plan, toward which the town allocated $70,000 to finance consultants, will take about six months to complete, and will attempt to manage growth in a way that most residents find agreeable.

Third, since the only survey is ten years old, I don't know how the town is supposed to know what "most residents" (of the entire town, not just Varna) will find "agreeable."  Nor do we know that most residents want growth "managed" by government.  Outside Varna, I see no groundswell demanding that government start determining land use to the extent proposed.

[...] Town Planning Director Dan Kwasnowski said although the decision on a moratorium is up to the town board, he said receiving a development application during the creation of a master plan could be "a huge distraction" both for his office and for Varna residents.

He said including proposed developments in the master plan would allow for a more realistic idea of future water, sewer and traffic requirements...

Finally, this reflects an approach by government that I don't much like.  Water, sewer, and traffic is to be shaped to serve town government's determination of what is good for us.  I prefer to have the town respond to water and sewer requirements as the need arises and to limit their intrusion to health and safety issues (such as water supply and sanitation), not what is easiest for the town.  In other words, people's preferences, as much as possible, should drive government; government should never drive our choices.  One of our principles is that government is to serve the people, people are not to serve the government.  The trouble with planners is they love planning and particularly planning that institutionalizes their view of how we should live.


The Varna Community Association (VCA) has a website where you can find a year’s worth of newsletters describing the many goings-on in the Varna area, and I was genuinely impressed with the energy and dedication of the folks who make all those things happen.  In addition to being simply informative, the newsletter also masterfully creates an image in the reader’s mind of Varna as de facto village. 

From the Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011 newsletter:

Your Input is Needed


WHEN: 7pm, Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WHAT: A meeting to learn about the proposed community development plan for the hamlet of Varna. Previous plans developed by residents of Varna will be reviewed, and issues will be prioritized. Your input is needed!

WHY: The Town Board has directed that a Master Plan be developed for the hamlet of Varna.

WHO: Mike Welti, Certified Community Planner, Director of Planning Services at Behan Planning and Design will lead the presentation and discussion. Mr. Welti is a consultant to the Town of Dryden.

WHERE: Varna Community Center


“Plans” come with price tags.  Who pays? Who benefits?

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