In early 2020, the Sparta Town Council passed (3-2) Ordinance 20-04 which could potentially create a negative impact on Sparta’s downtown.  The Ordinance provides several incentives to allow for mixed use retail and residential apartment buildings up to four stories (62 feet) tall, with an additional two underground stories on lots of two acres or larger.  

We all value a charming and vibrant town center.  While I welcome new development, it needs to be done in a sensible manner, and must reflect our responsibility to protect our town’s natural beauty and environment.  

The passage of this ordinance raises serious concerns that need to be addressed.  Notably, this type of retail and residential development has the potential to introduce new traffic issues due to the increased volume and density of people and dwellings.  This will directly affect residents and commuters.  

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In addition, the impervious coverage limit (the maximum portion of ground surface that can be covered with non-porous building and pavement) for this type of new development was significantly increased to up to 80%.  This will result in increased runoff from storm water, which can create flooding and other issues for those who live in, near, or travel through the center of town.  It also presents risks to the Wallkill River.  To be clear, while I recognize development is an important way that communities grow and prosper, we must set guidelines and carry out these projects responsibly and practically.

While the town council may have certain objectives related to affordable housing, it is imperative that our environmental well-being and the aesthetic quality of our town are not sacrificed.  This is why I am proud to be running for Sparta Town Council along with my running-mate Bill Greenlaw.  We have the perspective and vision needed to create strategies for sensible new development.  We will lead Sparta forward in a way that respects our environment and protects the qualities of Sparta that we all hold so dearly.