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A way to block Canton zoning changes

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Along our rural town of Canton highways and byways, in fields and plots, and all across St. Lawrence County, a welcome and positive green, local, sustainability food-growing movement is taking hold for all ages. But wait, something’s amiss!

That is, Canton Town Council politicians are now out to put a harmful crimp in all this with new, unfair zoning amendments.

Folks are raising locally-grown food to sell to us directly, to us at our ever-popular Canton Farmer’s Market and for us in our grocery stores and restaurants. Local students are helping and learning. Hey, even right in the middle of the village of Canton chickens are being raised for sale behind an East Main Street bed and breakfast business. Veggie beds blanket backyards.

Given our tough economic times and chemical-treated food trucked in from afar to our stores, we need to do all we can to encourage people to grow and sell locally from their rural properties without unnecessary encumbrances. The public needs to stop the Canton Town Council’s two unreasonable zoning changes. They’re requiring an uncalled-for 3-acre minimum growing area and special government-issued permits for raising chickens in the rural areas. The town fathers are mum, without giving any reasons.

The town of Canton seeks approval for these changes from the county Planning Board at their next on-the-road meeting at 7 p.m. April 11 at the new Potsdam Town Hall on Elm Street. The public will have time for comments.

We need to keep local growing opportunities in rural Canton intact without local officials meddling with no expressed reason. Without even needing a zoning change, now an aggrieved adjoining neighbor can always raise an official complaint.

If the county Planning Board votes “no” due to unnecessary, unfair and countywide implications, the town has only one legal way to overturn that vote. That is by a super majority vote of the fivemember Canton Town Council, or four votes against the county ruling. Thus, two councilmen not wanting to overturn the county “no” ruling could stop the changes.

Our democracy can and will work locally, if we in Canton and our concerned neighbors encourage a county “no” vote with our calls, our mailings to the county planning staff and the 15-member Planning Board and with our April 11 meeting comments. Boards and councils are suppose to represent the will of the people.

The fact is, we are a rural farm town and county. The small local-growers-movement needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. So for the good sake of our town, let’s speak up, consumers and growers alike, for fair, unfettered local food growing.

Brad Mintener

Canton

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