To the editor: The two versions of Richmond bylaws up for vote at May 18's town meeting are worlds apart in their impact. ("Zoning feud and school budget will kick off Richmond's annual town meeting," Eagle, April 14.)
The Planning Board's version is simple: It reinforces that recreation is a permitted use of land. It means that organizations and individual landowners may allow the public to come onto their land for hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, hunting, etc. However, no one is required to do this. You can still post your land for privacy.
The other version proposed by six people on Perry's Peak Road unnecessarily complicates a basic freedom. Their version requires that a special permit be obtained from the Zoning Board of Appeals by any landowner who publicizes in any way that the land in question is open to the public for recreation. A special permit requires the town to send a letter to all abutters and all surrounding towns that an application has been submitted; place a legal announcement in The Berkshire Eagle twice; hold a public hearing.
Special permitting is time-consuming, expensive, potentially contentious — pitting neighbor against neighbor — and is easily abused. Let’s trust that our Planning Board has thoroughly studied this issue. Vote May 18 for the Planning Board’s version to keep the freedom of recreational use of land in Richmond.
Kerry and John Hamilton, Richmond