This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, December 24 edition.
We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Townsman:
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no comprehensive plan for Woodstock. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE TOWNSMAN it's so. Please tell me the truth; is there a comprehensive plan?
[Signed] VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
115 Fairy Rainbow Lane
DEAR VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong and frankly a bit naive. They have been affected by the cynicism of a cynical age, or just too many veggie burgers. They do not believe except what they read in the letters section of a local paper. They think that nothing can be which is not downloaded from FaceBook or the town website. All minds, Virginia, whether they be geezers's or children's, are conflicted. In this great town of ours man is a mere NIMBY, a small activist in his classified 210 residential, as compared with the boundless, unsubdivided world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole real estate potential of our community.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a comprehensive plan. It exists as certainly as rules concerning land use and planning board fees exist, and you know that they abound in Woodstock and give to your life its quality of life, conservation easements and open space. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no comprehensive plan. It would be as dreary as if there were no future property taxpayers named VIRGINIA. There would be no regulations then, no SEQRA, no ZBA variances to make tolerable this existence. We would never have environmental impact statements stuffing the Town's files or judges' chambers. The eternal meetings and public hearings and zoning laws which fills Woodstock would be extinguished.
Not believe in a comprehensive plan! You might as well not believe in cell service for the western end of town! You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the channel 23 broadcasts to catch the Woodstock town board's land use subcommittee discuss ad nauseam the comprehensive plan, but even if they did not see the Woodstock town board's land use subcommittee stagger into its fourth year no closer to a finished document than you are to turning eighty years old, what would that prove? Nobody really looks at comprehensive plans except lawyers, planners and developers, but that is no sign that there is no comprehensive plan. The biggest bites in the neck in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see aquifer protection or a practical buried fuel tank report? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there, at least in an executive summary. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders in the world that idle for more than five minutes, although some members of the town board sure try.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which not the strongest zoning code enforcement officer, nor even the united strength of all the strongest zoning code enforcement officers that ever lived, could tear apart. Only attorneys, litigious terms, subsections of the law, violation notices, subpoenas, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No comprehensive plan! Thank goodness! it drags on and on, and it will drag on forever with DRAFT DOCUMENT blazoned across its cover page. A thousand meetings from now, VIRGINIA, nay, ten times ten thousand meetings from now, it will continue to keep the glad hearts of Woodstock town board land use subcommittee members awake past midnight.
With apologies to Francis Pharcellus Church.