Town lead­ers aim to ease plan­ning process

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

RHINEBECK >> The Town Board ex­pects to get rec­om­men­da­tions within a month on changes that could make it eas­ier for ap­pli­cants to nav­i­gate the plan­ning process for sim­ple changes to prop­er­ties.

Town Su­per­vi­sor El­iz­a­beth Spinzia said there have been com­plaints that too many re­views are re­quired for rou­tine projects.

“I started the Build­ing, Zon­ing and Process Com­mit­tee to look at how peo­ple go through to get per­mits from the zon­ing and build­ing depart­ment [s] and the process of deal­ing with the Plan­ning Board and the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals to make it stream­lined and user-friendly,” Spinzia said Mon­day.

“We have heard that it takes a lit­tle too long to nav­i­gate our ... zon­ing code, and we want the com­mit­tee to take a look at why it’s tak­ing so long and why it frus­trates some peo­ple,” Spinzia said. “... We don’t want peo­ple to strug­gle here in Rhinebeck.”

The com­mit­tee was formed af­ter ob­jec­tions were raised about con­vert­ing build­ings in a his­toric dis­trict .

“Some­body had a his­toric barn and wanted to turn it into a res­i­dence,” Spinzia re­called.

“The foun­da­tion was crum­bling on it, and be­cause it was a his­toric barn, they had to get vari­ances,” she said “It seemed coun­ter­in­tu­itive to make peo­ple jump through hoops to fix a foun­da­tion ... [by go­ing] through the whole process of turn­ing it into a res­i­dence . ... Let them fix the foun­da­tion, and then we’ll deal with the next step.”

Spinzia said the town Plan­ning Board was giv­ing ap­pli­cants per­mis­sion to pro­ceed with projects be­fore per­mits were se­cured.

Mem­bers of that board were “stat­ing that our code was too dif­fi­cult to deal with,” she said. “So we want to look at it. We want to make it as user-friendly as pos­si­ble while still sup­port­ing our ex­cel­lent zon­ing.”

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