Town leaders aim to ease planning process
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.”