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Cliff Sondack- Land Use Institute -Planner

April 1, 2005 @ 12:00 am EST


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userimageI had the feeling that this morning’s presentation had the potential for leading to an interesting debate. Our speaker was Cliff Sondock, President of the Land Use Institute.

The premise advocated by Sondock is that the market should dictate the use of land, and not restrictive zoning.

That theory is antithetical to what we have espoused on Long Island. Obviously there are going to be sharp differences of opinion. And believe me, there were. When radical ideas are presented, and I categorize any idea that is diametrically opposed to what we have been doing as radical, then expect a spirited debate. Well! Spirited is putting it mildly. What I needed to control that meeting was a whip and a chair.


One example of a debate inciting idea was the notion that land preservation was a complete waste of money. Sondock said that the allocation of $225,000,000 for land preservation had the effect of making Long Island even more unaffordable. Actually that makes sense, since preserving land reduces the amount of buildable land and drives up the price. But that would beg another question. Do we really want to live in a completely affordable rotten place?


userimageHaving a discussion of this nature, lets us look at new ideas and select from them, that which is workable. When the question of population density came up, someone, you’ll never guess who, asked “How do you deal with that higher density? After you allow higher density, do you then, build the infrastructure that you need”?  Sondack said yes, you could. Well, wouldn’t it be better to plan?

In other words allow for greater density under a comprehensive plan while at the same time infrastructure is incrementally and simultaneously built.


At one point there were various simultaneous conversations going on in the room. What that told me was that this was a hotter topic than I expected. It probably would be suited to a more in depth discussion. As it was we went overtime by about 20 minutes.


According to several people in the room, the topic needs more time, maybe we will do that in the future.