By law, zoning depends on a “well-reasoned master plan.” The master plan is important because it promotes economic development and guides land use decisions compatible with the city’s vision for the future. Unfortunately, unlike most neighboring municipalities, Rye does not have a valid master plan; instead, special interests and federal agencies are planning for us.
Master Planning and Property Rights
Master planning and zoning are strongly rooted in property rights. An important goal of zoning and master planning is to extend individual property rights up to (but not past) the point where the rights of others are negatively impacted.
Nobody wants to be told what they can do with their property, but then, who wants a toxic landfill placed next to their home? We don’t want to be told we can’t replace a three bedroom, senior-friendly ranch, with a five bedroom, family-friendly colonial, but then, why should neighbors pay more school taxes and endure class-overcrowding when RCSD enrollment increases? Nobody wants to be told not to build near a stream, but who wants to increase the floodplain and hike public tax liability for flood relief? Master planning isn’t perfect but it’s a great way to help address these challenges and balance community needs.
Unfortunately, unlike neighboring municipalities, Rye’s master plan is obsolete and no longer valid. By comparison, Greenwich, Bronxville, Scarsdale, and Mamaroneck recently adopted plans and Cappaqua/New Castle are very far along in the process.
Many Rye residents are alarmed by the current pattern of land use and recognize the need for a coordinated vision for the future. Adopting a master plan is a great first step in addressing land use challenges for current and future generations of Rye residents.
(Sources: planning.org, ryeny.gov, RCSD, great-lakes.net)