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      Goal: Maintain the Rural Character of Hurley

Here are three strategies we can use to maintain the rural character of Hurley.

Some towns maintain open space by acquiring land directly. Land acquisition requires funds. Hurley residents send two conflicting messages: Do everything possible to maintain open space and don’t do anything that will increase taxes.

Before the town takes any steps to acquire land or create funding for land acquisition to preserve open space and parkland, the Town Board should solicit citizen sentiment through a town-wide referendum.

We do not support the use of eminent domain for this purpose. Landowner participation should be strictly voluntary.

In terms of actual sources of local funding, several mechanisms used elsewhere in New York State should be considered. The least complicated method is to set aside budgetary funds on an annual basis. Another option might be to develop a revenue bond to extend costs over a period of years.

Some communities have discovered that an investment in farmland and open space conservation would cost less in the long term than the cost of providing residential services in those same areas. Ultimately, the most successful funding program may include a variety of funding sources, including grants.

      Establish local right-to-farm provisions.

Corn AheadRight-to-farm laws are intended to strengthen the position of farmers legally when faced with private nuisance suits and to protect farmers from unreasonable controls on farming operations. New York State’s Agricultural Districts Law Section 308 addresses the right-to-farm. Since the protections under the State right-to-farm law only apply to those farms within an agricultural district, it is recommended that the Town adopt a local right-to-farm law.

Local right-to-farm laws provide farmers with a sense that the community understands the value of farming and supports farming practices over the long-term. Furthermore, local right-to-farm laws can be crafted to include helpful provisions that are not available under the state’s right-to-farm provision.

For example, the Town could establish a program to work with local realtors to ensure that potential home buyers are provided with early notification that the home they are purchasing is in an agricultural area; or the local right-to-farm law could create a mechanism for the mediation of disputes as an alternative to the courts.



Most portions of the Town need to maintain low densities (particularly in areas constrained by steep slopes and wetlands) to preserve rural atmosphere and avoid additional traffic congestion. However, large lot zoning by itself can consume open space rapidly and often leads to sprawl-type development unless it is paired with other conservation planning techniques that produce what is known as “smart growth.”

Conventional zoning determines the number of residential units allowed on a parcel by setting minimum lot sizes. This results in suburban-style subdivisions with uniform lots that permanently alter the landscape and the Town’s rural character.

Smart growth can be achieved by using innovative planning techniques for residential subdivisions, such as “cluster development” and “conservation subdivision design.” These techniques separate density from lot size, permitting developers to build the allowable density on very small lots in exchange for permanently protecting the remainder of the parcel as open space. Well planned high-density developments with dedicated open space fit better with a town’s rural character than low-density, uniform sprawl development.

We recommend that zoning be modified to facilitate smart zoning techniques.

You'll find links to smart growth resources on our 'useful links' page.

conventional sprawl

Conventional development spreads houses uniformly over the landscape, is expensive to build and maintain, and erodes rural character.

Cluster development

Cluster development locates the same number of homes on smaller lots and permanently protects the remaining open space.



Recommendations to Maintain our Rural Character

Consider using a variety of methods including:

  • A town-wide referendum to determine our level of commitment to purchasing critical land or development rights
  • Establish local right-to-farm provisions.
  • Study and implement SMART GROWTH planning and zoning mechanisms
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