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If you don’t like the zoning law……….

August 26, 2012

……you can pretty much ignore it now that there are some new decisions coming from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) we will call the BAUM PRECEDENT.

The Gardiner NY ZBA can be a friend or foe to anyone who comes up against the Draconian zoning laws, especially if you live in the sacred “Ridge” area of town (of the “Save the Ridge” fame). As Carl “Czar” Zatz said in his first reign as town supervisor when the law was written, if the law doesn’t provide rules that you can live with, you can simply “get a variance” from the ZBA.

Case in point – my neighbor, Zach Baum and wife Sherri own a 19 acre lot above me that they have decided they want to subdivide further, but the new zoning laws protecting the sacred ridge have some sticky little sections that make it hard for them to do so.  Never fear, however, if you have friends in high places, including on the previously mentioned ZBA, (I will caveat here that ZBA chair Mike Beck has nothing to do with the following episode, since he was not present for any actual decisions by the board, except for his total silence about the resulting decision), there are many ways to make those pesky little zoning laws disappear like they never existed.  We will call this new interpretation of the law the BAUM PRECEDENT.  Here are some examples of when you and your lawyer can use the BAUM PRECEDENT to get what you need for your land.

  • Want to create a “flag lot” anywhere in the SP sacred ridge zone even though the law specifically bans “flag lots” anywhere in the SP district?  No problem….the BAUM PRECEDENT allows you to have one with as little as 50′ of road frontage!
  • Side and rear setbacks are not up to the laws’ requirements?  Just say BAUM PRECEDENT and there’s no need to heed the law.
  • Your new subdivision will create a new “non-conforming” lot from the previous old “non-confirming” lot…a big zoning law no-no.  The BAUM PRECEDENT makes sure the ZBA doesn’t have any issues with  that.
  • Regulations for area variances requiring you to have a documented hardship?  Even if you can’t come up with anything close to legitimate, the BAUM PRECEDENT creates a new category of hardship which is that you ‘just want to make money’!  After all, we all want to make money, right?
  • Got a “condition” from previous subdivisions you’ve done that restrict additional subdivision?  No worries!  The BAUM PRECEDENT just makes all those pesky conditions disappear instantly and allows the ZBA to ignore all restrictions put on your property by previous Planning Boards or ZBA’s.

So, it seems that Czar Zatz was right after all!  With the new BAUM PRECEDENT, and in the words of acting ZBA chair Paul Schwartzburg, there’s pretty much no circumstance under which the ZBA wouldn’t allow variances for just about anything requested by an applicant!

Which is pretty great considering I’m a property rights kind of gal.

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