Town of Cortlandville board members at Wednesday’s meeting held a presentation and public hearing in regard to the proposed update to the comprehensive plan.
The drafted update of the comprehensive plan is a “live document” that revolves around “general resources and the quality of life in town,” said Chris Einstein, assistant vice president of CHA Consulting, Inc. of Syracuse who is assisting the town with the plan.
The plan consists of guidance topics for the town, including:
- Growth Management
- Land Use
- Transportation & Mobility
- Resource Conservation
- Sustainability & Fiscal Health
- Land Use & Zoning
- Population & Housing
- Economic Status
- Community Facilities & Services
The 321-page drafted comprehensive plan document can be seen here.
“The plan sets the stages for additional studies and things that may be done to get you folks to the place you want to be,” Einstein said, adding the drafted plan will guide the town for the next 10-20 years.
Einstein noted that the town’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, a group of town residents responsible for taking every step to finalize the updated plan, received 40 recommendations for the plan.
The recommendations transitioned into action plans, which were divided by priority levels between short-term, medium and long-term actions.
“Some of these key action items should be done within the first year the plan is adopted. Others can be done in 1-2 years,” said Jean Loewenstein, principal planner at CHA Consulting.
Loewenstein gave examples on key action items, including the ongoing issue of the solar energy law, adding “this needs to be updated and reviewed by the town.”
“There’s been a lot of pressure in the town to monitor solar installations,” she said. “The plan would address the protection of farm resources, visual character, and consideration on limiting parcel coverage for facility orientation, buffers and decommissioning activities.”
Loewenstein touched on “traffic during peak hours around town roadways” as another example.
“One way could be to encourage walking and biking, and also encourage increased use of public transportation,” she said. “A plan is needed for sidewalks, tracks and pathways, while also addressing roadways and expanded bus routes.”
Cortlandville resident Tricia Roiger mentioned the issue she notices with public transportation in the town.
“We have a bus service, but longer hours are needed, and more routes are needed so people can use it,” she said.
A couple of town residents touched on aquifer protection in the town, including Roiger and Bob Martin.
“Be mindful of aquifers and wellheads,” Roiger said. “There should be an implementation of strong zoning laws to reduce the stress that can happen with aquifers as we develop the area.”
“It’s critical to review and update zoning for aquifer protection,” Martin said.
Ann Hotchkin, a resident of Cortlandville for 40 years who is also a member of the town’s comprehensive plan committee and planning board, discussed the handling of zoning in the area.
“Whoever decides to update the zoning in the town, you have to be careful to do that,” Hotchkin said, also a former long-time staff member of Thoma Development who wrote grant applications for Cortlandville. “Come up with solid zoning and try not to change things around.”
Cortlandville resident Pamela Jenkins, also a member of the plan’s committee, said a detailed guideline should be in place if the town faces flooding issues from “extreme weather events in the winter and early spring months. It could, she added, “raise the risk of springtime flooding that would cause delayed planting and reduced field production.”
Jenkins also put together FEMA-inspired maps produced for “special flood hazards” for the town’s wetlands and floodplains. She’s hoping to have them included in the comprehensive plan.
Stephen Flatt, a resident of Cortlandville who is a retired civil engineer, wondered if a natural disaster plan should be in place for the town.
“This would avoid situations like the one in Binghamton a decade ago,” Flatt said, who is referring to record-breaking floods that ravaged Binghamton in 2011.
Einstein said comments from Wednesday’s meeting, and the survey that saw over 40% of town residents respond to it, will assist in “helping to build a vision and set up goals and objectives for the town.”
Town supervisor Tom Williams said representatives from CHA Consulting, Inc. and the comprehensive plan’s committee will review each public comment. If necessary, the committee will then make changes to the draft, followed by the beginning process of finalizing the plan.
Williams is hoping the draft will be finalized by the end of July. He noted that any additional comments or questions after the hearing can be submitted no later than noon on Friday, July 2.
Questions or comments can be sent via email to [email protected] (attention: Tom Williams), or by mail to Tom Williams, Supervisor, Town of Cortlandville, 3577 Terrace Road, Cortland, NY 13045.