Check out the
CYBN Flash Intro!




Land theft in Warwick New York

Warwick NY Zoning Proposal threatens farmers and landowners

Rocco and Linda Manno and Ben and Eileen Astorino have been dairy farmers collectively for over 100 years. They shared their stories with Scams-n-Scandals™. In the farming business, land values count for much when it comes to equity and retirement. “That’s our portfolio. We don’t enjoy the luxury of a 401k or pension plan. As farmers we rely on our ability to sell our property at a fair market value like the rest of the world.” according to Linda Manno. “We’ve worked all of our lives to protect our property value and now they want to take it from us with the stroke of a pen. Says Kim their daughter. “This zoning plan will ruin us.”


The plan the farmers are talking about is an 80 plus page zoning document put together by a Town Board committee of 30 volunteers and land use professionals appointed by the Warwick New York Town Board. According to the supporters of this open space/land use initiative the re-designation proposal will guide community growth while protecting the farmer’s interests. The Astorinos and Mannos say that’s not so. They argue that it’s all about land use restrictions and preserving the view for tourism.

The plan introduces a number of intricate deed options such as (TDRs) Tranfer of Development Rights, (PDRs) Purchase Development Rights and (APOs) Agricultural Protection Overlay districting. These options and new proposed zoning codes will restrict farmers to only 20 percent of their land for housing while preserving 80 percent for open space.

Historically farmers and small landowners in rural areas have fought open space zoning when it deprives them of their rights to sell their property to whomever they choose for as much money as possible.

Some of the Town Board committee volunteers include Town planner Ted W.Fink, Katherine Daniels of Greenplan Inc. of Rhinebeck NY together with Town Attorney for Planning John D. Bollenbach. The town board has been meeting in workshops once a week since last January in an effort to get the proposed code introduced before their town’s building code moratorium expires. After the workshops, the Town held a number of public hearings attended by the residents throughout Warwick.

According to sources, the Town Board meetings were heated and argumentative. Landowners complained that the town workshops were held as early as 8:30 am making it impossible for them to leave work and be present. During one subsequent public meeting, a group of small property owners stood up and began shouting their objections in the front of the room forcing the board into executive session. Calling the propose code socialistic and confiscatory, the farmers accused the Town of attempting to draw up the code behind closed doors.

Town Supervisor Tony Houston defended the process by arguing that the meetings were always open to everyone who wanted to attend. But many residents note that routinely excluded from the decision making process was the outspoken organization LOCAL, a farmer and land owners organization opposed to confiscation of land values through re-classification.

According to LOCAL, the town plan is rife with inaccuracies which is the result of the anti development bias demonstrated by the Town committee. Thousands of acres in Warwick are already unbuildable by current zoning and already surrounded on the east by Sterling Forrest, on the south by New Jersey and Federal parkland and on the west by black dirt. Many feel the additional restrictive and redundant land regulations will ultimately hurt Warwick farmers.

Last month land owners, farmers and concerned residents met on their own at the Town Hall inviting Carol La Grasse, Founder and President of the Property Rights Foundation of America to speak. An engineer and expert in land rights, Ms LaGrasse explained, for the over one hundred attendees, the implications of code words like “scenic view shed” and “scenic vistas” Many times throughout her address, the audience interrupted with applause. Ms. LaGrasse also offered a number of strategies for countering the zoning proposals.

Edward Scharfenberger who heads up the Warwick Taxpayers Association, also attended the meeting. “This unfair re-zoning attempt will up everyone’s property tax rates. I’m here to offer my support and opposition to this plan.”

The issue of jurisdiction and zoning authority vs property rights has been the subject of many debates throughout towns and counties nationwide. It is a debate that continues to pit community goals against the rights claimed by property owners.

Without the new zoning rules families like the Mannos and the Astorinos could subdivide their land into as many as 20 residential parcels, says Ben Astorino, “With these proposals we’re lucky if we can get 4 building lots. We’ve paid high taxes on our land for all these years. Now decisions are being made by folks who know and care nothing for the farmer. Our land could go from 2.5million dollars to under 800,000 dollars over night.”

914 422 1990