"Opening up neighborhoods that were previously closed to higher density growth is not what the Town said they wanted when polled," said Sarah Thompson, a member of the Town of Lansing Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. "In fact it is just what they did not want. The survey clearly showed that residents want a controlled, planned growth pattern that reflects the agricultural nature and history of Lansing. A high priority was given to curbing sprawl in Lansing the way it is occurring elsewhere in Tompkins County. It is not responsible or fair to those who chose to live in low density residential neighborhoods. It's poor planning."
Thompson added that she was frustrated that the work of the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee and the survey results were disregarded in the formation of the proposed laws. She said that such laws should be put on hold until the update is complete and a planning consultant is hired.
She was one of a dozen residents who told the Board that they were not happy with the process used to formulate the laws, saying that it was not transparent and that the Town failed at communicating to the public even as late as this week when a confusing red-lined version of one of the laws was posted on the Town's Web site. Some identified errors and omissions they had found in the proposed laws. Many objected to specific changes, asking why they are needed. Others challenged proposed changes that would impact setback distances and allowed uses that some argued would favor developers over the current residents of the Town.
"One of the patterns that I've seen is that these things come up with very little transparency and very little notice to the general public," complained Mary Sullivan. "We don't know what's going to be proposed until it's mostly a done deal. And it usually involves development, and it's usually pro-development rather than for the people of Lansing who are here now. I've lived here a long time. We intend to keep our home here. Please take care of it, not just for us but for the next generation of Lansing people."
Councilman Ed LaVigne said the board is close to hiring a planning consultant.
"I received a lot of comments by email with a lot of good questions and concerns," said Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins. "I think we should pay attention as a board to all these comments and we may need to provide more explanations in the future. I think we should hold a public information session before we try to issue the next round of the land use law. I agree there are a lot of good reasons not to move the use changes and some of the other changes with high impact before we have the benefit of the comprehensive plan and a planner."