Landowners, Farmers Oppose Zoning Plan For Tompkins County Town

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – A group of landowners and farmers are trying to stop some zoning changes designed to preserve open space in the Town of Ulysses. Some say agricultural needs haven’t been considered. The town disagrees. Now, some residents have submitted a protest petition to the town board.

Chaw Chang is a small-scale organic farmer and for the past three years he’s fought updates to the town’s zoning. He lives in Trumansburg, a part of the town of Ulysses about ten miles from Ithaca.

Chang’s biggest frustration with the plan is that it will limit how land can be subdivided. He believes the committee that put together the zoning changes hasn’t listened to farmers and small rural homesteaders.

“I think they look at this community as a bedroom community.” He said, “I look at this community as a rural community.”

Town of Ulysses

Proposed zoning map for Town of Ulysses, New York

Town Supervisor Elizabeth Thomas said there have been several public comment periods. She says the zoning update committee had a variety of issues to consider.

“Both residential and farming concerns have to be taken into account there.” Thomas said, “So, that’s why we’re listening to everybody not just the farmers.”

Under state law, if 20 percent of affected landowners sign a petition, the zoning plan can’t move forward without a super majority of the town’s board. Chang says their petition has more than enough signatures.

If approved the draft plan still needs to go through an environmental review, and get approval at the county and state level.