Shandaken tables Scenic Byway Plan

By Jay Braman Jr.
Concerns over loss of Home Rule have made the Shandaken Town Board back away from adopting what is known as the Scenic Byway Plan.

After a public hearing on the matter, Shandaken Supervisor Robert Stanley pulled the resolution from town business Monday night with the unanimous consent of the town board.
“I’d like to give it more thought,” he said, as other board member members nodded their agreement.

Route 28 approach
Formed several years ago just prior to the economic crash, the Central Catskills Collaborative (CCC) has been working toward getting a 50-mile section of Route 28 between the Town of Olive and the Town of Andes designated as a Scenic Byway, under the notion that such a designation would open the door for funding opportunities for the region that would otherwise not be available.

The towns of Hurley, Olive, Shandaken, Middletown and Andes, and the villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville, formed the CCC under the umbrella of The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. This intermunicipal coalition formed to protect and promote the assets of the Route 28 corridor and advance projects for the economic benefit of the region.

Now the CCC has a plan, and is asking these municipalities to adopt it.

But in Shandaken the reaction to the plan at a public hearing was cautious, even negative.
Planning Board Chairman Charles Frasier had concerns over language about the town agreeing to not issue sign permits.

Who is in charge?
“Will (CCC’s) signage law, he asked,” supercede local sign laws? If so our signage zoning would be useless.”

Councilman Elect Alfie Higley was also worried.

“The town board just approved a major sign plan for Shandaken,” he said. “Are we going to pay to have these signs built and then not be able to use these signs just because they (CCC) say so?”

Al Frisenda, a former councilman, feared that adopting the plan would bring more regulation.
“I don’t want to see Shandaken give up control of its land use to an outside agency,” he said. “It would be another layer of bureaucracy and control that we gave away. We have been through this with the State Department of Environmental Conservation and with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.”

Big Indian resident Gary Gailes was concerned about the signage issue.

“I hope we’re not doing something that limits economic development,” he said.
Al Higley noted that Monday’s hearing was poorly advertised and that if people had known about it they would have come because the plan is something that will have town wide impact.
The Catskill Center’s Peter Manning tried to calm things, saying “This is a locally driven project, and it’s in your hands.”

He noted that the process of preparing the plan has been very public and has gone on for many years. He said that the only regulation in the plan is about signage and that regulation only echoes existing sign regulations within the Catskill Park.

But Frasier noted that not all the municipalities involved with CCC fall within the borders of the Catskill Park.

Another public hearing has been set for next month.