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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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SOS: Save Our Surroundings: info@sos-news.com

Save Our Surroundings began in 1996 when Middlesex, NY residents in and near the Canandaigua lakeshore wanted to protect the extraordinary natural heritage of the area. SOS has been a voice for the local community to give input on matters ranging from zoning laws to local development concerns. Whenever the need has arisen, SOS members have come together to work for the protection and betterment of the community.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!”….Margaret Mead

This history site is dedicated in memory of

the four deceased members of

the founding SOS Steering Committee: 

David Brockway, Sue Heveron,

 Jim Robinson and Fred Vogt. 

Rest in Peace.

In researching the history of SOS (Save Our Surroundings), the title of this section of the website had to be revised from est. 2001 to 1996, when those in  Lake Road vicinity first began working together in SOS.  We learned more about ourselves than we had remembered!

ZONING LAW CHANGES: 1996-1999

One of the earliest records is of Ann Brockway Flax circulating a petition to her neighbors regarding a July 1996 Draft of Zoning Ordinance Provisions to change the 1974 Zoning Law (modified in 1985) with respect to the Lake and Hill Residential Districts, and expressing her concern for potential degradation of the area.  Of particular concern was an attempt seen as adding cluster housing to the fragile South Hill slopes.  A July 29, 1996 letter from Attorney David Brockway, her brother, to Bob Multer, Middlesex Supervisor, showed that David had been involved in drafting and enacting the 1974 Ordinance, and was a valuable resource in his knowledge of these matters.  As a result of Ann’s determination and David’s legal knowledge, specific recommendations and concerns were expressed to the Town of Middlesex regarding of the Lake Residential District in particular.  SOS conducted an open public meeting at the Vine Valley Community Center on August 24, 1996, attended by 58 persons, providing a further spark of community unity.  A  further letter from David on April 8, 1997,  provided the results of his review of the new proposal and had a number of suggestions, which resulted in an improved, modified zoning plan.  All David’s legal work was rendered pro bono, to the gratitude of his neighbors.

The year 1996 was not, of course, the beginning of local involvement by year round and summer residents.  Neighborly concern went back many decades, but coming together as a group of neighbors to address these matters as SOS was a significant milestone.  Some folks were already active in what was then called the “East Shore Association of Canandaigua Lake.”  Dick DeMallie, Sue Heveron and Jim Robinson, in particular, come to mind.  And they would stay involved in both organizations.  (Dick signed the Treasurer’s reports in the June 1999 and June 2000 issues of East Shore News, and Sue Heveron and Jim Robinson were active directors.)  All three South Lake Rd. residents were concerned about the lake in general, and about our community in particular, and were in a good position to assess new concerns as they emerged, and to network with others in the East Shore Association.  SOS coalesced around all these three neighbors, plus David Brockway, Ann Flax, Fred Vogt, Tom Hansen, Jim DeNardo, and Diane Harris.

The first correspondence (which is currently available in our files) is from SOS is to Bob Multer, Supervisor of the Town of Middlesex, on August 25, 1997, with comments on what was then the new proposed zoning law changes, following a meeting between a number of individuals from the Town, and the SOS organizing group.  SOS input was reviewed at the September 4, 1997 Planning Board meeting, and at the Town Board meeting 5 days later.  We have those minutes too.  Input was given by SOS through the winter of 1997 and into the summer of 1998, up to and through the October 1998 final draft. 

David Brockway and Ann Flax gave their  input to the organizing SOS group, weighing in strongly on heritage and fragility of environment concerns, restricting flag lot development, restricting the size of home occupation signage, lengthening the time required for abandonment to be construed, requiring camping units to provide for waste management from day #1 and halving the proposed time required for their registration, determining acceptable changes in building height restrictions, setbacks for all accessory buildings, permits for alternative energy sources, and prohibition of transmission towers in the South Lake Residential area, South Hill and Bare Hill.  Specific language regarding windmills showed a vision of future concerns, as did the Tower Law, enacted along with that new Zoning Law.  SOS was pleased that some lake access language they wanted was enacted (i.e. no individual could rent his or her lakefront for commercial use) but some concerns remained.  SOS was also supportive of the Soil Erosion Legislation which passed.  All these changes were summarized in the SOS Newsletter Volume 2, #1 in Spring – Summer 1999.

An important point to emerge from those discussions was the importance of conducting such discussions at times when all home owners can participate, and not just those who remain through the winter.  Informal agreement was reached between residents and the Town on this matter.  The new Zoning Law passed on February 11, 1999, after a long season of discussion and evaluation.  SOS believes that its contribution to the discussion resulted in a better law, and a stronger working relationship between its members and the Town, and with other residents of South Lake Road and the surrounding area.

SOS’s activities also were tracked in the publicity on these issues.  An article “SOS in Middlesex” appeared in the August 17, 1998 Canandaigua Messenger and, in the same paper, on August 23, was an article “New Zoning, erosion laws near in Middlesex.”  On November 4, 1998 the Daily Messenger published an article entitled: “Middlesex delays vote on zoning, erosion laws.”  On January 28, 1999, the headlines read: “New Middlesex laws nearly ready.” 

COTTAGE WATER LINE CONCERNS – 2001

At Sue Heveron’s suggestion, in the summer of 2001 after she had her water line pulled up by a boat dragging an anchor, SOS campaigned through newspaper alerts (Messenger 8-17-01:  “Cottage owners: Boats break water lines.”) and through the East Shore Association to make people more aware of the dangers, both to damaging the water source for homes in the southeastern quadrant of Canandaigua Lake, as well as to boaters who might hook a 220 volt line source.  The story of Mike Daly’s diving and repairing Sue’s line was covered by the reporter.  Significant discussion led to some lake shore homeowners putting warning signage on the docks or lake front, or adding a marker buoy.  This is probably a subject with should get revisited from time to time, since there is still no public water in the area, and the water lines and boaters are still vulnerable if dragging an anchor.

HILL TRAMS – 2005

Sue Heveron was beginning to get SOS interested in the Hill Tram issue and environmental impact at the time of her death.  Since then, the Town of Middlesex has been very involved in the issue.

FRONTAGE: PROPOSED INCREASE – 2007

In November, 2008, once again zoning issues took center stage in Middlesex.  Dick DeMallie informed the SOS Members that on November 6, 2008 there would be a Middlesex Town Board Public Hearing to change the required frontage from 100 feet to 150 feet in the Lake Residential area.  Mike Daly collected data on 412 lake residential properties, comprising over $90 million in assessed valuation.  Of those properties, such a zoning change would have immediately made 75% of the properties non-complying, which would have meant any changes to those properties would have needed variances, and would have impacted resale values too.  For other homeowners, what previously would have been sub-dividable and/or buildable would no longer be so, a taking away of current landowners’ rights.  From various viewpoints, SOS members again mobilized their concerns.  This time it again included changes being made in the off-season, when so many owners are not present.  Fortunately, the Town of Middlesex heard the concerns, and dropped the matter, but SOS members were reminded of the need to be vigilant.  One source for pending information is www.middlesexny.org and the Daily Messenger covered the story too.

NYS CONVERSION OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES HOME TO SEXUAL OFFENDERS – 2012

Once again, the SOS members are standing together and expressing their concerns.  This time it is about NYS’s abrupt and unilateral relocation of the occupants of the Group Home  South Vine Valley Road, and their dispersal to various group homes further away.  For the 20+ years that home has been in VineValley, there has been a close relationship which now manifests as concern for the families and friends affected by the breakup of that Group Home Community.  

Moreover, with few answers forthcoming, SOS members and others are expressing their deep concern about NYS’s plans to turn the facility into housing for sexual offenders, frightening the community, increasing risk and potentially devaluing properties.  See the “rest of the story” on www.sos-news.com

INVITATION TO ADD OR CORRECT SOS HISTORY INFORMATION

Please contact us at info@SOS-News.com with corrections or additions to the above history.  We expect to revise this history from time to time as memories sharpen or more material comes to light.  It was never the intent of SOS’s founding members to document its work, only to act in the best interests of the community, our heritage and environment.

At a future time we will be adding links to the SOS Newspaper articles.

 


Disclaimer

NOTE: The contents of this site represent the opinions of SOS members or others who post on this site.  Any liability for inadvertent errors, or for revelation of information, or otherwise,  is explicitly disclaimed.  In the best judgment of the site administrator, posts  or portions of posts may be deleted for any reason, especially for spamming this site, making untrue statements, or using rude or profane language.   Each person posting is resp0nsible for his or her own content, and represents that to the best of his/her knowledge it is accurate.  Please keep discussion focused on the particular matters at hand.  All images should be copyrighted to their respective owners; all content referenced to its respective source.