What about property rights?
By NOEL VAN SWOL
The visioning process was first popularized in these parts by the staff of The River Reporter.
Unfortunately, the visioning process is being subverted in our region. Under the guise of planning for the future, local bureaucrats, no growth environmentalists and some area politicians are attempting to hijack the property rights of local residents without compensation.
Sullivan County is almost the size of Rhode Island. At a master plan meeting 14 months ago, former Sullivan County planner Alan Sorensen admitted that 85 percent of Sullivan County is undeveloped.
Obviously, there is no environmental crisis here and there isnt likely to be one for decades to come.
Real problems are not being confronted by those enamored with the regional planning process, big government or the concept of visioning.
For example, no one is addressing the recurring problem of property tax reassessment and what the current process is doing to drive local residents out of the area. Real estate assessments for everyone in the neighborhood should not be raised just because one or two individuals, with more money than brains, pay ridiculous prices to move into the area.
Finally, there is the problem of local politicians speculating with taxpayers money while using wishful thinking and faulty projections, such as a nonexistent gambling boom, to create unnecessary capital projects. A case in point is the overbuilt and half empty Sullivan West high school which has created huge financial problems for local taxpayers.
What does the region really need?
1. The abandonment of top down land management schemes which pile layer after layer of restrictive government on local taxpayers such as Senator Bonacics very dangerous Greenway proposal.
2. State reform of the real estate assessment system so local property is not reassessed until it is sold, thus preventing the destabilization of our local communities.
3. An end to grandiose governmental building projects built in anticipation of population increases that have not yet occurred and a return to pay as you go financial policies in which local governments and school districts only build facilities when they are actually needed.
4. Facing up to the fact that the one variable that can destroy the Upper Delaware and this entire region is the proliferation of gambling casinos which bring with them enormous social problems and infrastructure issues that Sullivan, Delaware, Ulster and Orange Counties do not have the resources to solve. Local and state politicians should not be encouraging casinos here.
Senator Bonacic and our local town officials must always remember that most people who have settled in our region are rugged individualists who do not want intrusive government unnecessarily sticking its nose into their affairs and telling them what they can or cannot do with their property.
As President Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address, Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.
[Long Eddy resident Noel van Swol is a retired school administrator, an adjunct college professor, a community activist and a property rights advocate.]
This bi-weekly feature is part of a visioning initiative to engage citizens in a valley-wide discussion about the future of the Upper Delaware River Valley. If you are interested in contributing to this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845/252-7414. For more about visioning, visit upperdelaware.com.