January 11, 2005



Philipstown Town Board

C/o Town Hall

238 Main Street

Cold Spring, NY  10516


To Whom It May Concern:


Following are the comments I made at the public hearing on January 13, 2005 regarding the proposed Comprehensive Plan.


I want to begin with a big compliment.  The work the Comprehensive Plan Special Board has done so far is fabulous.  Your document is intelligent, well written, and, indeed comprehensive.  I am very impressed with the amount of time and energy you have put in, with the obvious commitment you have, with the basic human decency I have witnessed time and again in the people who are participating, and with the amount of outreach and openness that has characterized the process.  My hearty congratulations, and my thanks for your contribution to our community!


I do have two specific concerns, which are important to me as the director of a large institutional use.


  1. I am uncomfortable about the language that says institutional uses should be “controlled” (Goal 1(a)(6) and R 2.8).  I know that the Committee has considered this comment before, but it has chosen to retain the troubling word:  “controlled”.  I think this is unfortunate, and I urge you to reconsider. 


I don’t think this is an idle point.  The word “control” suggests that institutional uses are somehow a threat to the community.  While I recognize that the most of the drafters do not feel this way, I am not worried about the drafters.  I am worried that language like this could potentially be used to the detriment of institutional uses when they are seeking to get permits for a project that would be good for the community but might be opposed by a

vocal few.  What I believe you really want to “control” is the conversion of large institutions into residential or commercial developments.  I think it is critical that this be clarified, since the reality is that this community’s fear over that type of development is easily used by people with narrow interests to fight even development that most land stewards believe is positive.  I would therefore suggest any one of the following possible changes that you feel best achieve the desired results.  I do not believe that any of these suggestions are inconsistent with anything in the rest of the proposed plan.

    1. talk about facilitating, not controlling
    2. talk about re-zoning these areas into an "institutional zone"—this, I think, is the most sensible thing if it is legally possible; most institutional uses are currently zoned residential—since it is residential development that is most feared, it makes sense to change the zoning so it is consistent with the current use and inconsistent with the feared use—any such new zoning category could then be designed to promote institutional survival on land that institutions could never sell for residential use
    3. clarify what is there already by adding a clear articulation that "encouraging" means creating rules that enable institutional uses to make upgrades and improvements that meet stated criteria as of right and that "controlling" means preventing the transition of institutional sites into non-institutional uses that would threaten open space and/or would strain Town resources—note, the BAD institutional proposals in recent years have been the ones that involved selling for non-institutional purposes; the GOOD ones have been those that involved construction to further the purpose of the institution—the Plan needs to articulate that we want to "control" the former, not the latter
    4. simply substitute for the words "maintain good zoning control over these uses" the following:  "establish zoning for these uses that is consistent with the other goals in this Plan."


  1. In Goal 6(i), I am also a little uncomfortable with the notion of developing strategies for future re-use of large institutional properties.  It gives me the image of someone somewhere plotting what to do with my agency’s land without consulting me, an image I find troubling.  It would be reassuring if you could add at the beginning of this sentence the phrase:  “Working together with the Town’s large institutions, . . .” so it would be clear that this is a process that involves the institutional landowners themselves.  I believe a cooperative effort in this regard would be more productive anyway.


I thank you for the opportunity to be heard, and I once again extend my compliments and congratulations to the CPSB.






Jordan Dale

Executive Director


/jd/neighbors/comp plan comments