Residents like G’town but see trouble spots ahead

GERMANTOWN—The town’s top strength is its small-town character, its top weakness the unappealing gateway (Route 9G) into town. Its top opportunity is Palatine Park Road redevelopment, and its top threat, the character of new development.

Those are first-glance results of an informal survey completed at Saturday’s follow-up vision meeting held by the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee.

The town will do a more formal survey as part of the Comprehensive Plan review, but these were the opinions of residents who attended one or two visioning meetings.

At the first Public Vision Meeting, held November 19, almost a hundred people were divided into four groups. Each group rotated looking at Germantown within four topics: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Lists were made in each topic, on large sheets of paper.

The results of the November meeting are posted on the town website, germantownny.org. Printed copies were handed out at the Saturday’s meeting.

The goal of this meeting was for the public to use the findings from the November session to help the committee establish priorities for a revised Comprehensive Plan. To that end, each person received two sticky dots for each of the four categories. The lists were hung on poster board in the Kellner Activities Building and people walked around the large room, affixing their dots as they saw fit.

Categories receiving the fewest votes were, under Strengths, a diverse economy; Weaknesses, health services; Opportunities, diversity; and Threats, loss of town land. Each of those received one sticker each, except for “loss of town land,” which drew no stickers. This is possibly because participants said later that they didn’t understand it, but Alan J. Sorenson, consultant to the committee, said that none of the November 19 categories had been left out.

Further, he said, even if a category received 0 dots, “it won’t go away.” Some town resident had thought it was important, so it would stay.

The months-long process continues. The Review Committee meets next on Thursday, January 26 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. In general, the committee meets alternate Thursdays at that time and place. Meetings are open to the public, with a public comment period at the end of each meeting.

When the Committee has a draft update, it will be posted on the town website well in advance of the committee’s public hearing on its draft, said Mr. Sorenson. After revisions in response to comments at the public hearing, the draft revised plan will be handed over to the Town Board.

After their consideration and possible revisions, the Town Board will hold a public hearing. Only after that will the town consider adoption of the revised plan.

“The Comprehensive Plan is the foundation for your local land-use regulations, such as zoning and subdivision,” said Mr. Sorenson. State law requires that a town’s zoning must be consistent with its Comprehensive Plan, he added. “The value of the update is that it addresses current issues. This exercise helps us to identify issues not addressed in the current Comprehensive Plan, issues that may have arisen since that plan was approved” in 2007.

From the audience, former councilman Donald Westmore urged the 86 people in attendance to “read the current plan,” which is on the town website. “Otherwise,” said Mr. Westmore, “we’ll spin our wheels on the same issues. It’s not long,” he said of the 2007 plan. “It’s well-written and an easy read.”

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