“I know you’re up on this, so I thought I’d share some info with you: UN agenda 21 is coming to the Town of Olive in the form of the town’s new comprehensive plan,” reads an e-mail blast that started passing around Kingston Tea Party listserves on July 29. “The plan is not yet passed, and the town Dems don’t even want to vote on it until after the fall election. This plan was done by an outside firm using a $50,000 grant, (30 pieces of silver), from the CWC (Catskill Watershed Corporation). So far, this process has been intentionally done under the radar as these wackos don’t really want any input, let alone any opposition. We in Olive are planning quite a surprise for them. It was prepared by this group www.rudikoff.com…scary reading…People from other towns need to be able to spot how and when this process may be taking place in their own towns.”
At the same time as the Olive public hearing on its Comprehensive Plan, set last month, the Kingston/Rhinebeck Tea Party will be holding its monthly meeting at the Ulster Town Hall in Lake Katrine.
Yet crowds in Olive are still expected.
“The Town of Olive and Ulster County are abuzz about new local environmental regulations that are being pushed by the Obama administration, local Democrats and Republicrats,” wrote right wing political gadfly Mitchell Langbert of West Shokan on his blog on Saturday. “The environmental push is coordinated by environmental extremists who have been influencing policy prescriptions since 2008, using as a guide a 1993 book that resulted from a 1992 UN conference called Agenda 21…Rumors on the Internet claim that Agenda 21 proposed to influence local government through building codes and difficult-to-understand standards that would be pushed through local governments. The explicit aim is intensive control of society to preserve the natural environment in its current form, including depopulation of rural areas and concentration of population in urban developments.”
Langbert, who tried to set up an Olive/Shandaken Tea Party branch a year ago, was recently ejected from a public hearing in Ulster on a local development involving LEED environmental standards.
Property-rights complaints against Comprehensive Plans have a long history in the Catskills, having helped lead to the ouster of one-term Democratic supervisor Pete DiModica in neighboring Shandaken in 2003, and having prevented active zoning in scores of municipalities throughout the Catskills in recent decades, despite New York State’s push for such planning as a key to its grants-giving protocol.
The UN21 scares have also played out locally before, reaching back into the 1995 withdrawal of a regional U.N. Biosphere Region application put forth by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and other regional organizations…based on scares of a United Nation takeover of the region. And a 1997 congressional hearing on the then-proposed American Land Sovereignty Protection Act, proposed by Rep. Donald Young and chaired by then House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Gerald Solomon from upstate New York, that grilled local environmentalists about their anti-property rights activities.
Rural in character
So what’s in the 55-page proposed Comprehensive Plan causing such a brouhaha?
“The Town of Olive Comprehensive Plan seeks to guide and provide for sustainable growth while preserving the core values of the Town,” reads a preamble statement. “Olive recognizes the importance of the Town’s natural and open space resources in forming the Town’s unique image and character. The beauty and rural qualities of the community and surrounding region attract residents and visitors/tourists alike.”
And then the new risible flashpoints for those fresh from having just succeeded in cutting our federal government’s spending to the bone down in Washington. Statements such as “The Town is, and should continue to be, primarily rural in character.” Or, “New or enhancements to existing regulations, designed to promote and protect the natural environment could be considered and implemented. These could encourage green building elements, and guide future residential and commercial development in regard to land use compatibility. Architectural styles, landscaping, and other related aspects could be respective and consistent with Olive’s character.”
Olive town board trustee Linda Burkhart describing the process of its creation.
“We’ve been working on all this for about a year. Every meeting has been advertised and open to the public,” said Burkhardt, when asked about the rumors of trouble swirling around next Monday’s public hearing. “We’ve been revising things all along, making the whole document more innocuous as best we could, replacing the word ‘should’ with ‘could’ wherever possible.”
Others in town said they’d been hearing that the comp plan, first brought forth some two decades ago and abandoned, was being referred to in some circles as “suspiciously Sierra Club” in wording. It seems everyone had seen the e-mails being passed around. And had opinions based on them, more than on the proposed document itself.
“This meeting may end up being something Olive is not accustomed to. A loud meeting,” Burkhardt added. “It’s baffling to me. Everything we’re talking about is non-binding…Talk about your tempest in a tea pot.”
And what’s UN Agenda 21?
“Sustainable Development sounds like a nice idea, right? It sounds nice, until you scratch the surface and find that Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development are really cloaked plans to impose the tenets of Social Justice/Socialism on the world,” reads a recent article from Glenn Beck’s “news website” The Blaze, passed around with news of next Monday’s Olive meeting. “At risk from Agenda 21; Private Property ownership; Single-Family homes; Private car ownership and individual travel choices; Privately owned farms. The Agenda 21 plan openly targets private property.”
Much is made of how George Soros is financing this outrage. And on a separate website being touted, at www.americanpolicy.org, more controversy is raised over the “outrages” of social equity issues, universal healthcare, and environmentalism.
And thus a new battleground seems to be emerging…in Olive, as well as Red Hook and other local towns, and American cities, where sustainability and other such issues are being written into policy.++
The Olive Comp Plan meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Town Meeting Hall, 50 Bostock Road in Shokan. Call 657-2320 for further information.