Subject: Federal Reserve audit
Professionally, I am an associate professor. I blog about current events, politics, higher education, the economy and whatever else interests me. I believe in free markets. I live in West Shokan, New York, near Woodstock, NY. All material on this blog © copyright 2003-2012 Mitchell Langbert.
P. 5 The Town of Olive Comprehensive Plan seeks to guide and
provide for sustainable growth while preserving the core values
of the Town. Olive
The word "sustainability" is a meaningless ideological buzz word that does not represent the aims of a large segment of the community. Its use is divisive, and it should be excised.
P. 5 New or enhancements to existing regulations, designed to
promote and protect the natural environment could be considered and implemented.
The environment in Olive already is beautiful, and is a major asset. No new environmental regulations are needed. This aim does not reflect the needs of the working and lower income population of Olive, who have been forced into under-employment by the poor economy. The environment is already quire beautiful and it does not need augmentation.
P. 5 These could encourage
green building elements, and guide future residential and commercial development in regard to land use compatibility.
Green building is a vacuous term. The organization Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) bases its standards on the opinions of industry activists, not science. There is a law suit currently brought by Harry Gifford and his associates calling green building and LEED to be little more than fraud. The term "green building" could easily be used to exclude wage earners from the Olive community.
P. 5 Architectural styles, landscaping, and other related aspects could be respective and consistent with Olive’s character.
Olive does not have an architectural character. This statement is an aim to exclude those who do not fit the caprice and whim of town government and may force children of poorer residents to leave the community
p. 5 Existing hamlets could be strengthened to better serve community needs, enhance the identity and character of the community, and to provide a safe, walkable, and
The aim to provide a walkable and interconnected "environment" is an irresponsible goal and evidences the incompetence of the planning process and the Rudikoff firm. I would urge the town to dispense with the Rudikoff firm and design a plan from scratch… a redesign sensitive to calming traffic on this major highway is necessary to meet Olive’s community
residential, business, recreational, and tourism needs. In
P. 5 Olive’s natural, recreational, and cultural assets could be promoted through Tourism… a redesign sensitive to calming traffic on this major highway is necessary
On the one hand, the plan calls for increasing traffic through tourism (other businesses such as construction and light manufacturing are to be violently suppressed through green policies). On the other hand, the plan calls for expensive road enhancements and additional policing. We already have too much policing. According to Traffic Calming.org the three "e's" of traffic calming are engineering, enforcement and education. Since the town doesn't engage in highway safety education, What Rudikoff is advocating is more police and expensive road improvements that will harm taxpayers. Jobs will go to firms outside Olive.
P. 5 Encouragement could be provided for conservation easements…
|This is a proposal to transfer of land from private owners to government. I oppose it and the ignorant environmentalist superstition on which it is based. |
In the United States, a conservation easement (also called a conservation covenant or conservation restriction) is an encumbrance — sometimes including a transfer of usage rights (easement) — which creates a legally enforceable land preservation agreement between a landowner and a government agency (municipality, county, state, federal) or a qualified land protection organization (often called a "land trust"), for the purposes of conservation. It restricts real estate development, commercial and industrial uses, and certain other activities on a property to a mutually agreed upon level. The property remains the private property of the landowner.
The decision to place a conservation easement on a property is strictly a voluntary one where the easement is sold or donated. The restrictions of the easement, once set in place, "run with the land" and are binding on all future owners of the property (in other words, the restrictions are perpetual). The restrictions are spelled out in a legal document that is recorded in the local land records and the easement becomes a part of the chain of title for the property. Appraisals of the value of the easement, and financial arrangements between the parties (land owner and land trust), generally are kept private.
The primary purpose of a conservation easement is to protect land from certain forms of development or use. Lands for which conservation easements may be desirable include agricultural land, timber resources, and/or other valuable natural resources such as wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, or scenic open space. Protection is achieved primarily by separating the right to subdivide and build on the land from the other rights of ownership. The landowner who gives up these "development rights" continues to privately own and manage the lan
P. 5 …and other techniques resulting in additional dedicated forest, wild and agricultural lands such as tax stabilization or tax reduction programs.
Tax reductions to some will mean tax increases to all. Since Olive already has wonderful forests maintained by New York State, this proposal is idiotic and one more example of Rudikoff's incompetence.
P. The Town could advance its efforts for open and continuous dialogue with NYCDEP, and increase its participation in the ongoing planning studies currently underway within the region affecting Olive and the surrounding area.
The proposal that a New York City agency should plan Olive's economic and political life is outrageous. New York City raped the Town of Olive a century ago. This ignorant and callous proposal reflects the failure of this document and the firm that proposed it.
p. 7 Establishment of a centralized place for community services and events could serve as a catalyst to expand opportunities for residents to meet and revive social
The establishment of social networks should precede the construction of expensive and so far pointless community centers whose purpose is unknown because the community networks do not exist
P. 7 Promotion of the Town’s business community is encouraged through the development and expansion of compatible recreational and eco-tourism uses engaging the scenic and natural resource qualities of Olive.
This limits the future to "eco-tourism," a vacuous term that should be eliminated from this document. Business SHOULD NOT be limited to "eco-tourism."
p. 7 "The Comprehensive Plan addresses the need for transportation adjustments, explores potential energy sustainability measures, identifies potential funding opportunities, and places the Town of Olive in the context
of current, ongoing regional planning studies.
"Energy sustainability" is an ideologically driven concept that is meaningless. Its meaning depends on economic and scientific data that no one in Olive, nor in the world, has. Its use is ignorant and should be excised. No transportation adjustments are needed. This phrase should be eliminated as well.
P. 7 The Comprehensive Plan examines the integration of measures for protecting the surrounding watershed and the
Town’s significant natural and historic resources.
This should be contingent upon expanded subsidies from New York City. Why should Olive subsidize New York City's water supply?
P. 8 left column
Sustainable Community Planning – Addressing:
.. Town Sustainability (Community Services and
Agencies, Public Infrastructure, Residential and
.. Energy Conservation
.. Greening Measures
This section should be eliminated. There is no need to take any steps because the town is sustainable as it is.
P. 8 Right column
The Town of Olive presently lacks an
identifiable center or place for community facilities and principal gathering activities for residents to meet and revive the social and “old school” community network. A new Town Hall, centralizing community services and meeting facilities, could become the catalyst for this.
This is an example of incompetent, modernistic thinking whereby large scale structures are erected with the aim of creating community. Structures should reflect community, not the other way around. This ignorant claim would raise taxes. Any "plan" for construction needs to be accompanied by a discusson of costs as well as benefits. There is no discussion of the tax impact here. This is another example of the wealthier town residents using their access to town government to attack working property owners. What would be the effect on taxes? The construction of large, centralized facilities in New York City destroyed and did not create community. The Rudikoff firm displays its incompetence here.
Traffic speed and volume on this major
recently improved and repaved two-lane State Highway hinders the development of pedestrian friendly hamlet centers
This section contradicts the emphasis on eco-tourism. Without a vibrant, multi-faceted business community, pedestrian traffic is a costly fantasy. The problem is not traffic speed but lack of population. Without industry, no population. Wiithht population, no pedestrians. Without pedestrians, no sidewalks. In other words, this plan puts the cart before the horse.
P. 9 The Town could coordinate with
NYCDEP for the incorporation of a bicycle path along this scenic roadway, which is presently under reconstruction and realignment (0.4 miles of new construction and approximately 2.1 miles of realignment and reconstruction;
scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2011).
If the town can induce DEP to build bicycle paths on 28A and 28, then this is a good idea. The town should not do it at its own expense until bicyclists spend money here, which they generally do not.
P. 9 The Town’s current land use regulations (i.e.
Zoning Code, Subdivision Regulations and Highway Specifications) could be reviewed to ensure that Olive’s current residential development pattern can be maintained
if future development pressure for year-round and/or seasonal residences may increase.
Because the plan already says that building has slowed and because of the large amount of available land, this section should be eliminated because it is superfluous.
P. 10 Private Forest Lands — Like publically owned state forest lands, undeveloped private forest lands helps maintain large contiguous tracts of forest habit, protects water quality
and preserves rural visual character. These lands however, are not necessarily protected for the long term and in many instances are a family’s economic asset. Owners of forest lands wishing to preserve but needing an economic return could be forced to sell to meet tax obligations, particularly land owners of forested land tracts under 50 acres not located within the NYCDEP watershed.
The Town ought not interfere in private property rights of current owners. This section should be excised.
NYC Route 28A Bicycle Path — As noted above, the incorporation of a safe and recreational bicycle path could be developed along this scenic roadway.
The town should develop a bicycle path IF DEC assumes 100% of the cost.
Pp. 9-10 Section called Economic Development
This section should be excised. There are numerous other potential businesses that could be developed that do not contradict the aim of visitors who aim to bicycle. These include light manufacturing and service businesses. This section is an example of financially set, wealthy town residents aiming to use socialist planning to economically harm working town residents. Alternatively, if the authors really believe that they can "plan" economic development, they are committing the same fallacy that the Soviets committed. Planners are not capable of anticipating economic change, so economic plans are destructive of public well-being.
P. 11 The above noted development of a safe bicycle path along
The plan should indicate the anticipated costs to the Town of Olive of constructing a bicycle path.
P. 11 Commercial Development Controls
and lack of an interconnected and
NYS Route 28 traffic conditions and
speed limit also create a discouraging environment for new
businesses relying on the need to divert passing traffic to
turn off this major highway and stop.
This section is excessively antagonistic to new business development. It should state that commercial development consistent with the Town's rural character is encouraged, to include all forms of commercial development. The lack of a walkable environment is irrelevant to commercial development. It should state that automobile accessible sites are desirable and should be encouraged especially because they permit off-main highway development sites that do not detract from various forms of commercial development
Although speed may deter some business development, access to off-main highway light manufacturing, for example, may be encouraged by the 55 mph speed limit between Shokan and Boiceville. It is not necessarily the case that current speeds deter development. Because walking is so infrequent the means of access, it is unlikely that emphasizing walking will contribute in any way
P. 12 Town Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
"This relates to Town and public buildings’ energy use and operations, as well as retrofitting of existing homes and businesses by property owners or proposed new development.
The word sustainability is vacuous and should be excised.
This section should be excised. Home owners should not be saddled with capricious energy requirements proposed by tentative or junk science and its zealous proponents. The word "retrofitting" can be used to impose capricious costs such as large amounts of insulation, expensive chimneys, new forms of heating, illegalization of wood stoves and similar kinds of capricious rules.
The word "retrofitting" should be evicted from the plan, or Olive residents may find themelves evicted from their homes.
P. 12 It is not intended that the Town would specifically legislate or compel action in this regard but rather the Town would encourage economically viable opportunities as they present themselves and would encourage responsible parties to explore and consider making energy efficiency a part of their future property improvements, new construction, and Town operations.
If the Town does not anticipate action with regard to retrofitting, it does not need to mention this insulting concept in the Town Plan. There are many avenues for education about insulation and heating improvements. The Town is not a useful venue to provide educational opportunities in this area.
Substitute the word "cost efficient" for "green." I find the word green offensive.
Efforts supporting and promoting the enhancement and revitalization of the Town’s hamlets by seeking grants and other financial means of advancing economic improvement such as main street revitalization program
could continue to be pursued aggressively.
Grants often come with strings attached. Grants should only be pursued if they do not require mandates, legal changes, additional costs, additional taxes or harm, such as retrofitting may cause, to existing residents. Grants should be pursued "aggressively" only if they make sense.
Policies could be developed to support the establishment of a Focal Community Center such as in either Boiceville or
It is ironic that the imperative of a "focal community center" is divisive. A "focal community center" makes sense if (a) there is demand for it among the people who live here, not just the 25 people who framed this plan, (b) there really is a community, which is unclear, (c) the dubious community is not really a ruse to enforce the values of green shirts on everyone else and (d) if the costs of the community center are known. What are the costs? What are the benefits? Are you certain that there is a community demand for a community center? Would you invest your own money into it?
P. 13 The Town could designate feasible and ample sites for future residential and commercial growth concentration in Olive’s existing hamlets, thus leaving the majority of the land in large lot residential, recreational, watershed, forest preserve, or agricultural use.
I disagree with this offensive suggestion. If the local green shirts want to move to Boiceville and live next door to the market, that is their privilege. It should not be town policy to compel anyone to do anything along these lines. This suggestion is out of step with the town's character. It should be deleted. It should read:
The Town should continue to encourage residential homes built on private property consistent with its current character. The town respects private property and depends on the automobile for its life. Both private property and automobile use are to be encouraged.
P. 13 Hamlet design guidelines and standards. Olive’s
hamlets have a unique settlement pattern, distinct architectural styles, and environmental settings. By creating design guidelines and standards specific to the unique characteristics of each hamlet, the Town can ensure that future development blends into the
There should be no such guidelines. This section should be eliminated. Olive's charm comes from the imagination and spontaneity of its residents. A government mandate or planning board that interferes with residents' creative choices is an absurd and ill-advised error.
P. 14 Commercial development guidelines and standards. These could encourage coordinated
landscaping, lighting and signage design to extend the existing rural development pattern along the Town’s major thoroughfares (especially NYS Route 28 and
NYC Route 28A) in an attractive manner.
Opportunities for shared or central parking in Olive’s hamlets could be created to support local businesses.
This section is also in error. There should be no such guidelines. This section should be eliminated. Olive's charm comes from the imagination and spontaneity of its residents. A government mandate or planning board that interferes with residents' creative choices is an absurd and ill-advised error.
That existing zoning and development policies respond to the needs of the tourism industry.
Low-wage tourism jobs are not the only ones that might appear in Olive. Again, the incompetent planning process here limits opportunity and the possibilities for economic development. This sentence should be deleted.
The Town could explore techniques to foster smart growth and greening measures through Incentive Zoning (allowing density bonuses and other incentives for development proposals that meet community
goals), Clustering (allowing zoning flexibility by grouping homes closer together to increase preservation and protection of important resources while minimizing road and utility infrastructure), and Transfer of Development Rights (directing growth away from areas of high sensitivity toward areas better prepared to receive growth).
This section should be deleted. The town should not foster smart growth. The smart growth principles are listed on Smart Growth Online at http://www.smartgrowth.org/engine/index.php/principles/.
These include fostering public transportation, preserving open space, providing habitats for plants and animals. It also advocates "compact building design" which means that " communities be designed in a way which permits more open space to preserved." Olive already has considerable open space. It is unrealistic to advocate public transportation here. Smart growth also involves mix use development, which is appropriate to cities but not to rural areas. "By putting uses in close proximity to one another, alternatives to driving, such as walking or biking, once again become viable." This is inapplicable to Olive. It also involves politicization of land by advocating preservation of open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas. Much of the land here has already been stolen by New York City. This plan advocates more stealing, more encumbrances on your property rights.
P. 15Establishment of a Recreation Plan that addresses
There is no need for a recreation plan.
P.15 Establishment of an Open Space Plan to identify
There is plenty of open space because the City of New York has purchased much of the land. This should be eliminated.
Riparian buffers should be
|Regulations concerning riparian buffers must not limit private property use or encumber current homeowners with expensive environmental rules. The current regulatory regime is sufficient to meet New York City's needs. Olive does not need to serve as an errand boy for New York City |
Riparian buffers are vegetated areas next to water resources that protect water resources from nonpoint source pollution and provide bank stabilization and aquatic and wildlife habitat. The formal definition of riparian buffer is diverse and depends on the individual or group defining the term.
The USDA Forest Service defines a riparian buffer as follows:
the aquatic ecosystem and the portions of the adjacent terrestrial ecosystem that directly affect or are affected by the aquatic environment. This includes streams, rivers, lakes, and bays and their adjacent side channels, floodplain, and wetlands. In specific cases, the riparian buffer may also include a portion of the hillslope that directly serves as streamside habitats for wildlife.
P. 15 Establishment of steep slope controls and related
standards for development on hillsides could be
developed and incorporated into the Town’s
|Olive does not need to adopt additional regulations unless they protect existing property owners.|
P. 15 Consider and establish policies and programs for
Conservation Easements, Transfer of Development
Rights and/or purchase of development rights and
other measures that encourage large landowners to
NOT develop their land just to be able to pay the
Farmers are encouraged to continue farming. The
Town could seek to create an Agricultural Development
Area which could be given priority under a Purchase of
Development Rights program and/or serve as
“sending” properties for a Transfer of Development
|Purchase of development rights (PDR) is discussed at http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/1263.html. It is a feudalistic concept and should not be adopted here. Tax policies should be fair. Loopholes and privileges for elite, large parcel landowners should not be adopted. They are already here and they do not work. |
Farmers should be treated fairly, not encouraged or discouraged.
P. 15 Encourage NYCDEP to continue their land acquisition program and to modify their land accessibility
|Land acquisition harms Olive's tax base. Why the town would want to encourage this is a puzzle. The City should not acquire more land.|
P. 16 Develop a safe walking/hiking and biking trail network around the reservoir and throughout the Town
which connects the hamlet business centers with recreation/tourism nodes, including a connection
between the reservoir’s scenic promenade and “Winchell’s Corner” (corner of NYS Route 28 and
Reservoir Road) and a Rail Trail.
Create cultural, historic and recreational Theme-
Trails as tourist oriented destinations.
Promote, support, and develop consolidated light recreation programs to attract day visitors, as well as maintain and foster youth camp opportunities.
Support the development and promotion of a creation
of an Environmental Center and Rural Tourism Museum to showcase and provide information about
Olive’s history, recreational assets and opportunities, cultural features, and natural resources. Develop,
support, and promote cultural educational seminars. Support the extension of the existing Catskill
Mountain Railroad and/or development of a nonmotorized
rail trail for hiking and biking.
|The costs of this should be made explicit. It should only be done at New York City's expense. |
In general, the risks and expenses associated with risky development are best borne by entrepreneurs, not by naïve town officials.
P. 17 Foster the designation of State Forest into a
National Park / Greenway / National Forest.
|It is outrageous that this plan offers support for Congressman Hinchey's short sighted and destructive proposal to create a National Park. This section should be excised. The effects of nationalization on governance and local rule of law need to be understood.|
P. 17 Promote and support the preservation of important historic buildings, local landmarks, and cultural sites and resources…encourage retention and reuse of historic buildings
|If this is to be done through regulation or legal mandate, that should be made explicit. The costs of doing this should be made explicit. The same goes for placing plaques. What is the cost?|
Pp. 17-18 Design and install informational kiosks…visitor interpretive center…picnic center
|What are the costs and benefits of existing information kiosks, visitor interpretive centers and picnic centers in the region?|
P. 17 Encourage the creation of more lodging facilities for
|If there is legitimate demand, this can be accomplished without the town's involvement.|
P. 18 Even in the face of global changes in the manufacturing
sector, Olive can still serve as host to a variety of manufacturers and service based industries. The Town
could ensure that its industrial and commercial zones are
properly configured and prepared to serve as competitive
locations for existing and new businesses.
|The interest in manufacturing should be expressed earlier in the plan. Rather than say that development should be compatible, say that compatible development should be encouraged.|
Support the founding of a local economic development organization to promote and market the Town’s local existing businesses, to stimulate development in priority
growth areas, but also support existing farming operations
and initiate farm stands and/or an organized local farmers
market for locally grown and produced products.
|Costs versus benefits?|
Establish zoning and development policies that respond to the needs of the tourism industry.
|If this is a viable business concept, then the nearby Emerson resort should be successful. Is it? What are the costs and benefits of such policies?|
Ensure that Town policies support the extension of highbandwidth
Internet service to commercial and industrial sites in the Town
|Do existing businesses want high bandwith service? What are the costs and benefits? What are the effects on potential new businesses locating here?|
Plan and develop a sidewalk network in the Town hamlets
|Costs and benefits?|
Incentive Zoning – which allow density bonuses and
other incentives for development proposals that meet
community goals (e.g., provide a better pedestrian
network, expand recreation space, etc).
.. Clustering – which allows zoning flexibility (without
altering permitted maximum density) by grouping
homes closer together or in a way that increases
preservation and protection of open space, important
natural habitat areas, and scenic resources, while
minimizing road and utility infrastructure needed to
|These ideas misconstrue why development occurs in Olive. They should be eliminated.|
Town application of greening measures in new construction, renovations, and maintenance of
governmental, public and community group buildings and facilities.
At time of development of new or expanded facilities design for and seek LEED or equivalent certification.
|The term "greening" should be eliminated. Encouragement of LEED is inappropriate and should be eliminated.|
P. 21 "Sustainable community planning."
|The term "sustainable" is vacuous and should be eliminated.|
Develop techniques to encourage smart growth. Smart
growth is the channelling of development into areas that are
easily served by existing public infrastructure in ways that
minimize future consumption of resources such as open
space, as well as providing that future development can be
served by a variety of transportation modes including
pedestrian access, bike trails, and transit as well as
|Smart growth is not relevant to Olive's needs. This section should be excised. Incentive zoning, clustering and transfer of development rights are also inappropriate.|
Create and promote greening guidelines and establish
policies for implementing greening measures such as
the use of solar energy.
|The superstitious "green" ideology of Al Gore, Goldman Sachs and the superstitious "green" movement should not be foisted on town residents who find these preposterous ideas offensive. LEED should be pursued only where there are documented advantages.|
Review current building code for new construction
and amend to encourage new development to
incorporate greening measures.
|Building codes should not be revised unless there are documented advantages to consumers. This section should be omitted.|
Develop and promote through organizations like the
Conservation Advisory Council educational programs
and materials that advocate and describe green
materials, and green techniques for buildings,
stormwater and other land use practices.
.. Research funding sources and inform residents
about options for greening grants and other support
resources / stimulus / financial resources (e.g., Town
could access incentives for sustainable building
practices, NYSERDA works with Towns, Green
buildings could become goal for Town structures and
businesses, existing pool could be refurbished with
solar / solar thermo / passive solar).
|The Town should not be involved in green education or superstitious claims of "green educators."|
Promote availability of sustainable information and
.. NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and
.. TSEC (The Solar Energy Consortium); and
.. DHCR WAP (Division of Housing & Community Renewal
Weatherization Assistance Program).
|This section should be excised.|
P. 22 Encourage consideration of greening materials and
measures for new construction and alterations of
existing structures requiring a building permit, and
where appropriate require low impact development and
implementation of greening measures in site design
and stormwater management practices. Encourage
sustainable building practices beyond the Energy-
Code, without making this a requirement.
|Excise this section. Crackpot "green approaches" should not be encourages unless they provide economic advantages to consumers. Any reference to existing structures should be eliminated.|
P. 22 Establish Green Building Guidelines consisting of a
series of standards and regulations designed to protect the natural environment, to promote green building elements,
and to guide future residential and commercial development architectural styles and landscaping for consistency with Olive’s character.
|There should be no green building guidelines. This section should be eliminated.|
Create Conservation Easement opportunities and other
tax relief measures generating similar forest preservation
for Olive’s south-eastern portion located out of the
|I agree with the low tax proposal, which the current town government has failed to do, but conservation easements are not the way. They raise taxes by limiting land development. Eliminate this self-contradictory section. Also, land easements are supposed to be voluntary, not based on tax incentives.|