Public workshop regarding Village of Rhinebeck-re-zoning of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds

March 20, 2013
The Village of Rhinebeck will be holding a public workshop on Wednesday April 24th at 7:00 pm to begin the public information process regarding the re-zoning of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and the proposal of an events code.

Mayor Jim Reardon states, “over the last 18 months there have been numerous meetings involving two separate committees to study these issues and come up with draft legislation to present to the public for input.”
One group was comprised of representatives of the Village Board, members of the Dutchess County Agricultural Society Board and management, Village Planning Board, Zoning Board and the Zoning Enforcement Officer that studied and drafted a document that will address the re-zoning of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The Dutchess County Fairgrounds is a tremendous asset to this community economically, culturally
and educationally yet it is a non-conforming use in the residential zone. That means they are prohibited by law from intensifying their use, building facilities or improvements, or increasing their schedule of events. “It is not realistic to expect the Fairgrounds to be successful while handcuffing them with an outdated zoning designation. Times have changed, business has changed and we need to change or this important institution
will fail. With that said we also can not allow unchecked and unregulated growth without significant impact to the residential neighborhoods and to the largest historic district in the United States,” says Reardon.

The second group which has drafted documents concerning the proposal of an events code that will address events held within the Village. During 2010-2011 the Village board held many meetings and discussed the idea of an events code. Reardon states, the Clinton wedding was one of the things that triggered this idea. Two weeks prior to the event we had no information whatsoever about what was going to happen, where
or when. To me this was unacceptable. The end result was that our taxpayers had to foot the bill for police overtime for a private affair. Do we allow anything to happen anywhere, anytime with no prior knowledge, without adequate planning and preparation and then expect our taxpayers to foot the bill? I don’t think so. Also there is the issue of liability in the event that something goes awry.” In November 2011 the Village Board held a public hearing for a proposed events code and it was
met with strong opposition.

Reardon states, “at that time the Village Board decided to abandon the draft proposal, form an independent committee and charge them with the task of a drafting a new events code proposal. The group was comprised of representatives of all sectors of the community including residents, not for profits, business, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Village Planning Board, Police and Fire. This issue is about the Village and its residents being aware of what is happening and being prepared.” The draft documents are available on the Village website homepage