October 9, 2008, River Reporter: Delelopment Guide Released, Focus on Sullivan and UDRB

Development guide released

Focus on western Sullivan County and Upper Delaware River Basin

link to article is here

By SANDY LONG

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER REGION — The past decade has revealed steadily increasing development pressure in western Sullivan County, NY and the Upper Delaware River Basin.

In collaboration with the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition (UDPC), the Open Space Institute and the Urban Design Lab (UDL) at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, under the direction of professor Richard Plunz, recently released “A Citizen’s Guide to Residential Development,” which is now available to the public.

The guide is the result of a spring semester 2008 Urban Design Research Seminar conducted as a sequel to last year’s seminar and publication of “A River Endangered: Proposed Power Transmission and its Impact on Cultural History along the Upper Delaware River.” Both publications are available through the UDPC and various public locations soon to be determined.

According to Plunz, who is also a member of the Town of Lumberland Planning Board, “There seemed to be a real need for people in the Upper Delaware region to have a better understanding of how land development works, what are the review processes and what recourse people have if they disagree with a project proposal. What we found was that there were some very interesting cases in the region where folks had already learned a great deal about how development works, and had had some success in getting input into the process. So the report includes not only the basics of process and concerns, but also some case-studies that people can read and learn from.”

In part, the work augments the Upper DelAWARE Roundtable’s recent GIS mapping of large development projects within the eight counties bordering the Upper Delaware River. Additionally, the Open Space Institute became a partner following an explanation of the research project at a roundtable meeting.

The publication examines the effects of residential development on the natural and social ecologies of the region. As noted in the guide: “The environmental conflicts are as complex as the players involved—governments, residents, developers, tourists—as well as the voiceless participants—the fish, deer, birds and native plants.”

Useful information on official review processes and public recourse relating to development is included. Five case studies are presented: Lumberland’s Lake Diana Subdivision, Cochecton’s New Turnpike Homes, Tusten’s Eagles Nest Estates and The Chapin Estate in Bethel.

The studies are followed by a review of other impacts to the region, such as the New York Regional Interconnection powerline and the exploration of natural gas extraction. Information on tools and resources available to residents and officials is also provided.

“We had tremendous cooperation from many organizations and individuals,” said Plunz. “We concentrated only on western Sullivan County in order to make the scale of study workable.”

Visit www.udpc.net for more information.

Contributed image  
This newly released publication examines residential development issues in the Upper Delaware region. (Click for larger version)

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