This is the second issue of the newsletter, the Gardiner Democrat.
In This Issue...
One of the goals of The Gardiner Democrat is to help educate Gardiner citizens on the town government--how it works and what it does to manage the town effectively.  In this issue, The Gardiner Democrat offers articles by Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic on efforts to "beef up" code enforcement in Gardiner and a piece by Planning Board member Marc Moran on the review and approval of development projects in our town.  I found both to be quite informative and we hope you do too.
Beefing Up Code Enforcement
By Marybeth Majestic

Good enforcement of the Gardiner Building Code is necessary but has proven to be a significant challenge for town government.  The post-pandemic demand, a building boom throughout the mid-Hudson area, and limited Building Department staff have led to enforcement lapses.  The Gardiner Building Department has had its hands full just keeping the applications moving.  With only one Building Inspector, who is also the Code Enforcement Officer, many enforcement needs have, unfortunately, not been fully met.

Finding and keeping good staff in this area has been a problem.


Gardiner Town Hall: Seat of Local Government

 In March of this year, the Town Board hired Trevor Hults, a new Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer, to join part-time Building Clerk, Jewel Turner in the Building Department.  Trevor has been addressing existing violations and has reported what he is doing to the Town Board and the public at our July and August meetings.  He will continue to report to the Board monthly.


Among his other duties, Trevor has made a list of problematic buildings in Gardiner.  After reaching out to the owners, he has inspected most of these properties and updated their status.  He has also explained the difference to the Town Board between derelict buildings (vacant but no threat to public safety) and condemned buildings (a danger to the public). The one building on the condemned list, the abandoned house next to the ball field adjacent to the Town Hall, is the most urgent issue, and Trevor has been in contact with the owner regarding the next steps that will be taken.


 The Town Board also authorized the monitoring of Gardiner’s conservation easements and lands donated to the town for conservation purposes.  A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement that permanently limits uses of the land to protect it without giving title to the land to the easement holder.  Gardiner has many conservation easements and donated lands given to the town as far back as the 1980s.  However, they have never been monitored and checked for violations.



The Rail Trail

The Gardiner Open Space Commission did an incredible job of locating easements and conservation properties donated to the Town and, with the Town Board’s authorization, they were monitored and evaluated in 2022.  Several violations were identified, and some have been addressed by the property owners, while others are pending action.  The Building Department will be working to follow up on these.


In July, the Town Board hired a second Building Department employee, a Building Clerk, Michael Makely, to assist Trevor with enforcement of the code.  Additionally, Michael holds the position of Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals Clerk, which creates a much-needed link between these three important town entities.


Among his other duties, Michael will work with the software company on the computer platform which the town licenses to input and track building code violations.  That system has been available but unused due to the heretofore excessive workload of part-time Clerk, Jewel Turner.  Once this software module is loaded with the necessary information, issuing violations will be an easier task for the Building Department.  Staff will input the information and supporting photographs, and violation letters will be generated automatically, making the whole process much more manageable.


Building Department

 The Town Board is also considering hiring a second part-time Building Inspector to assist with building applications, which would free up time for Trevor to increase his enforcement efforts.  Violations will include issues with buildings, as well as potential violations of town-held conservation easements, town property (including the Gardiner
Rail Trail), and monitoring new development in
Gardiner to ensure the projects proceed in a
manner consistent with local laws and approvals.


The Town Board will continue its increased support of the Building Department in the 2024 budget to ensure that this “beefing up” of code enforcement is sustained.  Stay tuned for additional updates as they occur.


Marybeth Majestic is Gardiner's Town Supervisor and a candidate for reelection to that post in 2023

We are interested in your feedback, and we might even publish it in an upcoming issue.  Please send all comments to

Land-use Decisions in the Town of Gardiner

By Marc Moran


How are decisions about land-use and development made in the Town of Gardiner? Here’s a brief summary.


Land use is principally regulated by the town’s Zoning Code. Other town laws can also come into play. The Zoning Code establishes what types of development are allowed, and where – as different land uses are permitted (or prohibited) within various districts or ‘zones’ throughout the town. The Zoning Code also lists certain uses which are allowed “as of right,” meaning no individual review or approval is required (these are typically small and common uses).



Law book and gavel

Unless permitted “as of right,” proposed land-use projects which fit within the Zoning Code’s parameters are also subject to project-specific review and approval by the town government. Various individuals and boards may be involved in such a review.


The town Code Enforcement Officer (“CEO”) typically makes an initial determination about whether a particular proposal is allowed under the Zoning Code. The CEO also ensures that any approved project is developed in conformance with the code and any conditions which the town has attached to its approval.


ZBA Members

If there’s a disagreement regarding the CEO’s determination, an appeal may be filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals. This citizen board is empowered to interpret the zoning code and to determine how the code applies in a given circumstance. The ZBA may also grant variances, allowing minor exceptions or deviations from the zoning code in specific cases. Members of the ZBA are appointed by the Town Board and its meetings are open to the public.


For certain development applications, notably those proposed within the Shawangunk Mountains protection zone, the code calls upon the Environmental Conservation Commission (ECC) to review the project and advise the Planning Board about potential impacts.


As the town’s governing body, only the Town Board has the power to enact or amend the Zoning Code, pass related land-use laws, and adopt the Comprehensive Plan and other plans which articulate the town’s vision for future development patterns. On occasion, the Town Board also plays a direct role in land-use approvals. This was the case with the recent (and at this writing, continuing) review of the Lazy River Campground permit application, in which a zoning change and Special Use Permit were issued by the Town Board.


Most individual land-use decisions are made by the Planning Board. Members of this board are town residents appointed by the Town Board. The Planning Board is assisted by environmental and legal professionals retained by the town, and the board’s monthly meetings are open to the public.



Members of the Planning Board

The Planning Board may only entertain development proposals which the Zoning Code allows, and which are in sync with the town’s plans. To ensure a project conforms to the code’s specific requirements, the board reviews detailed application documents and site plans. For greater context and a fuller appreciation of a proposal’s potential impacts, board members often conduct site visits.


Many of the Planning Board’s reviews are straightforward. Others, depending on the nature and complexity of the proposed project, are more complicated and can be controversial. Public comment is an integral part of the board’s review process. For each application, the ideal outcome is a project that not only conforms to the letter of the Zoning Code, but also benefits the overall community with little or no negative impact.


At the conclusion of every application review, the Planning Board issues a site plan, subdivision, and/or special use permit approval, along with conditions the board has attached to it approval. Or, if a majority of the board’s seven members finds that a proposal does not meet the law’s specific requirements, the board can deny approval. Planning Board decisions may be appealed in state court.



For every application before it, the Planning Board must also comply with New York’s State Environmental Quality Review act, or “SEQRA.” This means the board must carefully examine whether a proposed development is likely to result in a “significant environmental impact,” and how or if such impacts can be avoided or sufficiently mitigated. This impact analysis is in addition to the board’s Zoning Code review, though the two are often integrated and conducted simultaneously. The board must conclude its environmental analysis before it either approves or denies an application. 




A word about environmental impacts might be useful here. Any new land use has the potential to disrupt the natural environment, disturb neighbors, or negatively affect the broader community. Whether a particular project will result in a “significant” environmental impact depends on a number of factors. Conducting a successful and appropriate impact analysis, therefore, requires careful review and informed judgment. Here again, input from the public and professional advisors greatly helps the board in its decision-making.


Planning Board members strive to reach reasonable and fair determinations about environmental impacts, and Zoning Code decisions, for the benefit of all.


Marc Moran is a member of the Gardiner Planning Board

Don't forget about our upcoming fundraiser honoring Tracey Bartels On Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at Garvans.  Doors open at 5:30, Buffet Dinner at 6:30, Cash Bar and Silent Auction.
Speakers: Jen Metzger, Pat Ryan, Tracey Bartels, with a keynote by George Latimer, County Executive of Westchester County.
Or send a check to GDC Tracey Dinner , P.O. Box 145, Gardiner NY.
Guest: $75, Booster $150, Friend $250, Patron $500
Editor's Note: Stepping Up
By Tom Kruglinski
Gardiner, like all political entities in the state and nation, is self-governed.  Political parties nominate and voters elect their top leadership but rely on limited staff and volunteer leadership for many town functions. 
Our elected leaders, I have learned, are paid quite modestly for the amount of work and the number of hours they put in serving us.  In addition, their roles involve making decisions that are bound to alienate--sometimes quite extensively--one group or another whose interests are negatively impacted by those decisions.  In many ways, it's a thankless job.
As a leader of one of the political parties in town, I know first-hand that it is quite difficult to recruit and vet good candidates for these top leadership posts because of the negatives folks know come with the jobs. Yet having people willing to step up to the plate and actually run, as well as finding others who are willing to volunteer for one of the many volunteer boards and commissions (which often serve as a "bench" for future leaders) is absolutely critical to our democratic system of government.
I am grateful that, in a time when there is so much negativity toward government, we do have very qualified, talented, and positively motivated folks who are willing to get up to bat.  Sometimes they hit home runs and sometimes they strike out, but we are richer as a town because of them.
If you are interested in running for elected office in Gardiner, please don't hesitate to reach out to me and to those who actually serve in government for more information.
Tom Kruglinski is Chair of the Gardiner Democratic Committee and editor of The Gardiner Democrat
Special thanks to our authors who contributed to this issue, Marybeth Majestic and Marc Moran, and to those who contributed last issue, Michael Hartner, Glenn McNitt, Steve Weir, Melissa Tierney, and Erik Hoover.
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