Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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October 16th, 2014

Fallsburg Making Bold Changes

The Town of Fallsburg once a thriving part of Sullivan County’s economy has become rundown since our thriving hotel and taxpaying bungalow industry shut down.

Hamlets and villages in the municipality look shabby and neglected with most stores open for seasonal summer use. Drive through Woodbourne, Woodridge, Loch Sheldrake, South Fallsburg and you understand what I am talking about.

An exception in the township is Hurleyville thanks to the Center for Discovery’s investment, and some new interest in Mountaindale.

The Town of Fallsburg is a magnificent part of Sullivan County, it houses spectacular golf courses, Morningside Park, and of course Sullivan County Community College.

Over the years, the municipality has been plagued with developers purchasing once high taxpaying properties including hotels and bungalow colonies and seeing them turned tax exempt.

No one can blame town officials for all the tax exempt properties in the Town of Fallsburg because it is New York State Law that permits this.

Town officials knew they needed for years to broach this topic, but because bungalow colonies and seasonal homes with a lower tax rate are primarily Hassidic and Orthodox the topic has always been very sensitive.

Many members of the Hassidic and Orthodox community have become major voting blocks in the Town of Fallsburg. And, they even assist candidates in obtaining signatures on nominating petitions.

Candidates running for political office often drive to Brooklyn during any particular campaign season to receive blessings and endorsements.

I am pleased to say that Town of Fallsburg officials have finally decided to tackle the issue, and have been working over a year on making some major zoning changes. As expected Orthodox Jewish developers, residents, and contractors are angry.

A part of the newly proposed charges are clearly aimed at Bungalow colonies. In a published report in the Times Herald Record some of the new provisions include:

• One residential structure must be built on a 5-acre lot in a flood plain zone. Messenger said this mainly applied to recreational development. Bungalow colonies, she said, mainly exist in non-recreational areas.

• For any new bungalow colony being built, there must be a distance of 31 feet of green space between each unit.

• Any new development must have 250 feet between the building and a public road. It was originally 175 feet.

• Any building containing a nonconforming residential use can be altered as long as it does not include additional bedrooms. Bungalow colonies are considered a nonconforming use in all zoning districts.

There are also new regulations for existing bungalow colonies. They can only expand as long as 15 percent of the lot it’s located on is covered.

Eight Years ago a group “Fallsburg Watch” was formed in an effort to stop the explosion of bungalow colonies and seasonal housing developments.

“Fallsburg Watch” claimed there was too much growth in the Town of Fallsburg and there needed to be a master plan before new projects could be approved.

Members of “Fallsburg Watch” were accused as being anti-Semitic and it became a hotbed political issue in the municipality.

There was also an unsuccessful write-in campaign against the former supervisor who was accused with selling lumber and building supplies to Hassidic and Orthodox developers.

Two years later the town made several zoning changes, but nothing like the Town of Fallsburg is doing now.

Although several town officials have said the proposed changes is a “work in progress” I hope they do not back down.

Public comment on the zoning changes will stay open for the next several weeks. Residents can submit their written or in-person verbal comment at the Town Hall.

The town board has also scheduled a public workshop on October 27, 2014 at 5 PM at the Senior Center on Laurel Avenue in South Fallsburg.

With Casino Resort Destinations expected to be announced shortly in Sullivan County, the Town of Fallsburg needs to be prepared for real year round development.

Thank you Town of Fallsburg officials for finally taking up this issue in a serious manner – it’s long overdue – and hopefully it’s not too late!

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post Join in on the Conversation on Facebook in the group Sullivan County Post


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