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Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Drop the Idea, Senator Bonacic

Counterpoint, a view from a reader
Sullivan County Democrat
Friday, July 30, 2004

To the Editor:

What is wrong with State Senator John Bonacic? Has he completely lost touch with the residents of the 42nd State Senate District? Uneasy property owners and taxpayers have been asking these questions ever since Bonacic proposed turning the Upper Delaware River towns into a "Greenway" in February, ostensibly to funnel more grant money to the towns.

Actually, this is a Trojan horse designed to create yet another layer of government to go along with the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and the Route 97 Scenic Byway and impose more restrictions and ultimately regional zoning on us. The unspoken objective is to stop real estate development and curtail property rights in the valley.

Senator Bonacic repeatedly uses the Hudson River Greenway as the model for his Upper Delaware Greenway proposal. What he hasn't told voters is that this model means that once the Greenway is established, entire towns would be within the Greenway, not just the river corridor.

Property rights are a very sensitive issue, particularly in Sullivan, Delaware, and Ulster counties, where people have never forgotten the wholesale condemnation of towns, villages and farms for the New York City reservoir system, the steadily increasing regulation of watershed areas by both New York City and New York State, and the 20-year battle to prevent the National Park Service from condemning the entire Upper Delaware River Valley.

The residents of the Upper Delaware, who have been good stewards of the region since the 1700s, do not deserve to be made a target for the worst kinds of Albany-inspired environmental restrictions as well as the usurpation of their property rights without compensation through regional zoning.

The key issues are home rule and local control. Unfortunately, Senator Bonacic's proposal will destroy these time-honored traditions.

The thousands of property owners in the region are the primary stake-holders directly affected by this proposal and its ultimate victims. There is absolutely nothing in the Greenway concept for local landowners, farmers, and homeowners. It is a charade.

As one prominent Town of Tusten resident said recently, "How would you like to own 100 acres in the Greenway and be told you couldn't do anything with it?" No matter what kind of extravagant promises are now being made, this is the danger we will face over the long term if the Greenway proposal is rammed through the Legislature by Senator Bonacic. A Greenway designation here will attract the attention of major environmental interests with a "no-growth" agenda who will eventually clamor for amendment after amendment to this legislation, imposing more and more restrictions on local residents who don't have the resources to fight back. Despite his promises, Senator Bonacic cannot honestly say that this won't happen.

The huge multi-million-dollar logging, farming and bluestone quarrying interests in the valley will inevitably be held hostage by environmentalists using the Greenway designation to shut down natural resource utilization of any kind in order to preserve "the viewshed." You can count on it.

Conveniently, nothing has been said by Senator Bonacic about compensating property owners for the inevitable loss of their property rights over time. Obviously, key members of the State Legislature would like us to shut up, stop all development and just sit there and pay taxes.

Some politicians in the towns of Tusten, Cochecton, Delaware, Highland, Lumberland and Deerpark have tentatively agreed to support the Greenway proposal, even though they are inadvertently selling out the homeowners, farmers, and landholders who elected them in the first place. These town officials do not realize they are being duped.

Conversely, the towns of Fremont and Hancock, which cover more than 30 percent of the river corridor, have rejected the proposal.

Bonacic's controversial Greenway proposal is also sending tremors through the rest of Sullivan, Delaware, and Ulster counties. People are asking, if Senator Bonacic is tilting so far to the left with his Greenway proposal, what other kinds of radical legislation will he sponsor when he is returned to office next year that could do irreparable harm to the rest of the 42nd State Senate District? This is a major concern. ...

Senator Bonacic, it is time for you to wake up and smell the coffee. Drop this Greenway proposal. It is a bad idea.

Noel van Swol
Long Eddy

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