What is zoning and why are we making changes?

Zoning determines what you can (and cannot) do with your property.
If you bought a house or business and never made any changes to it
you probably have never been affected by zoning.  Most small
changes only require a visit to the Code Enforcement officer to
obtain a building permit.  Sometimes what you or your neighbor want
to do is beyond what the Code Enforcement or Building Inspector can
approve and that is where zoning comes in.

Liberty never had zoning laws until the 1980s when the folks that
lived here thought it would be a good idea to regulate what you could
do with and on your property.  

In 2011 changes were made to our zoning. While some people were
happy with the changes others were not.  People who wanted to do
things found the laws prohibited many uses.  

Now we all want our town to keep the natural beauty we are known
for; our breathtaking views, spectacular fall colors, clean water,  and
outdoor recreation opportunities.  We all want to support our 21st
century small farmers producing organic healthy food here in our
backyard. Sustainability is the word.  How do we create a sustainable

Sustainability is not just about farming and fresh air.  It is about
government finances too.  How do we sustain our governments to
provide us with the services we want and need and have taxes we can
afford to pay? How can we pay for our roads, our parks, street lights
and other services our government provides; our schools, librarys,
fire departments.  These are the things your property taxes are used
to provide.

A word about Libety's tax base.  The tax base is the number we get  
when we add up the tax assessment on every single property in the
town.  Of course we have to deduct the tax exempt properties (that is
another story). If our community's tax base stays the same and the
town tax levee (the amount we collect in property taxes) stays the
same, you would have no tax increase.  If your tax base increases and
the levee stays the same, your taxes go down.  If the tax base
decreases and the levee stays the same your taxes go up. Which way
have your taxes been going?  They are going up not only because
everything costs more, but because we have a declining tax base.  
The worst of both worlds.

Why are the taxes in the Town of Thompson so much less? They
have a tax base twice the size of Liberty's.  Walmart, Home Depot,
half million dollar homes at Emerald Green.  TWICE.

HOW DO WE FIX IT? We have to grow our tax base or we are out of
business.  No one will choose to live here because the taxes are too
high.  Much of the blame for this falls on New York State. Our State
government chooses to fund services like schools and other
government functions, to a large part, with property taxes.

Until NY State comes to its senses and shifts the cost of government
away from property taxes (as many other states have done).  We
either grow our tax base or reduce government services. No one
wants to see a reduction in services.

In order to grow our tax base we need to encourage commercial
development.  Not only does commercial development increase our
tax base, but it creates jobs, which is another thing we need to do to
sustain our community.

We believe the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning changes we are
proposing will encourage economic growth while preserving our
natural beauty and agricultural heritage.  It doesn't fix everything,
but it fixes some things.  It is a living document and we should all
work together to make sure that it continues to change to meet our
needs, the primary of which is sustainability.  Not too permissive, not
too restrictive, we think Goldilocks would like it.

I suppose I shouldn't be talking about our taxes here, especially for
you folks reading this and  thinking about investing in our town.  
You should know that Liberty has a town government committed to
sustainabliliy and we will do whatever it takes to grow this
community that we love.

Details of the Draft Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Changes are
available on the web at www.townofliberty.org
Charlie's Desk
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