New Scotland candidates debate zoning, ethics

LaGrange, a planning board member for four years said it has more influence than some might perceive.

"The planning board tends to have a lot of their own ability to make unilateral decisions," but said they are a "tremendous resource.

Stanton touted the good work of the planning board when the Clarksville Stewarts was being planned, as developers said it was the most difficult out of the 285 shops to ever get past a board.

Mackay said the planning board process should be more open, and said there has not been an open selection since 2005. Mackay offered his resume for the board in December, but was not offered a position.

The candidates were also asked to discuss how development can bring in a greater tax base, and how property rights must be balanced by proper planning.

Fields pushed for something to happen in the commercial district to alleviate possible increases in school taxes.

Dolin said the school tax is so overwhelmingly more than the town tax, it is hard for the town to mitigate raises in school taxes. He said he cut $140,000 in spending from this year's proposed budget, and does not imagine being able to do much more.

"I don't realistically see us trimming more that the in the future," Dolin said. "It's not realistic to make up for [school tax raises]."

Mackay said preventing the commercial zone from shrinking, and having partial residential rezones are an important part of growing the tax base and can alleviate the burden.

With the threat of taxes looming, and financial constraints always an issue, the candidates were asked to discuss how important it is to balance property rights with zoning regulations.

"This country was build on property rights," Stanton said. He did call for some regulation, but said it is pivotal to not penalize people who have been "good stewards,' and kept New Scotland looking rural. Robinson took a similar stance, stating property rights precede even the zoning code. She said the commercial district is only 2 percent of the town, and needs to be taken advantage of.

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