We have also experienced much of what Ken reports in this thread (to Mike). Director of NECCOG, John Filchek once said, “it only takes 7 people on a PZC board to determine YOUR fate.” This is indeed true. It happened to us. Our quality of life and property value was taken away suddenly one night in a unanimous vote by PZC. We hope that what happened to us doesn’t happen to others. We intend to continue to work toward preventing that.
Woodstock quite effectively has NO zoning except for a set of sub-division regs which are VERY good and stand as a model in the state of CT. When it comes to building sub-divisions, we look good. However, every other application comes under “Special Permit” and ALL special permits are granted which means that everyone in Woodstock could suddenly have a 6 bay, 24/7 lighted Gulf station next to them one day or a version of the famed hot dog stand. It is true that this probably won’t happen to you if you happen to be friends with the “right” people in town for PZC decisions ARE selective rather than impartial.
As much as land owners wish to sell land at strong prices, I wonder why they don’t logically deduce that anyone “from away” with a lot of money to spend on land would want to build a home or a business when they can not know what might be built next to them in the future. How healthy is it to have newcomers or businesses that seek NO regulation? Why do they want to avoid regulation? And, do you want this type of owner(s) to move in next to you?
It takes 20 minutes on the net to research the wisdom of good zoning in regard to land values, community quality of life, strong schools etc. ALL strong communities have good planning and zoning.
Woodstock prides itself on being different in just about every topic one can think of — so far it’s worked pretty well, sort of . . but it is only a matter of time before it doesn’t work any longer. And then what? Where do we all move to next?
But, is this all the fault of the PZC members or is it the fault of a voting (or non-voting) community? PZC members are elected. Historically, voter turn out at the polls in Woodstock is low so the good old boys and girls keep getting elected as they and ALL their buds trudge off to the polls each election.
Sadly, as long as life is good in Woodstock, it’s tough to get people motivated about zoning. Consider what happened to us and know that it can happen to you too. Most communities don’t realize what they’ve lost until it’s too late. The time to do the work is before it’s lost not try to catch up afterward . . that can’t be done. Once it’s gone. It’s gone.
In addition to attending meetings and talking with your neighbors about zoning, it is smart to read the PZC minutes each month, attend the meetings, get familiar with what the various members say and what they’ve actually done. Some members of PZC are pretty clever in that they do a good job of convincing the voters that they are ALL for preservation when they actually will do anything they can to prevent any preservation protections and/or zoning measures.
We are after-all, a democracy. As much as I respect Ken’s work history with this topic and feel as if we ALL owe Ken a great deal — I place the responsibility of determining a future for ourselves entirely with the Voters of Woodstock.