G’town will hold final hearing on town plan update

GERMANTOWN—The Town Board holds a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Final Draft next Thursday, October 19 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

For town residents who are feeling a sense of “deja vu all over again,” this is a new hearing, for a new purpose, before a new administrative body.

On June 1 the committee appointed to update the 2011 Comprehensive Plan completed its draft and held a public hearing. At that time, the public was speaking to the committee.

The committee revised its draft update with the public comments in mind and gave that draft to the Town Board for its review.

The board made no changes to that draft, Supervisor Joel Craig said Tuesday. Nevertheless, he said, by law the board must now hold its own public hearing. On this occasion, the public speaks to the Town Board. The committee’s only role is to answer questions, if necessary.

If a resident raises a point that needs addressing, said Mr. Craig, the board may change the draft or ask the committee to change it.

The draft update still runs 100 pages, as it did in June. The up-to-date draft, dated July 28, 2017, is on the town website, germantownny.org: click on “Community,” and in that list, click on “Comp Plan Review.” The most recent updates in that draft are highlighted in blue.

Hard copies of the draft update are available in the Germantown Library on Palatine Park Road, but they may not be the most up-to-date, Norman Mintz, chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee, said Tuesday.

Mr. Mintz urged the public to at least read sections of the plan that were of interest to them and to attend the hearing. The town is reaching the final steps of a long process, he said, one that began in September 2016 with the appointment of the Comprehensive Plan Committee. He said he hoped that after the October 19 public hearing, the Town Board “will see its way clear to adopting” the updated Comprehensive Plan.

As a result of public comment on June 1 this year, the revised update now begins with 10 Priority Actions “recommended to be taken by the Town Board upon the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan.”

All of the Comprehensive Plan is recommendations; no comprehensive plan has the force of law. Municipalities may revise their zoning and planning laws, according to recommendations made in a comprehensive plan.

In brief, the 10 recommendations are:

• Pursue state funding to expand the sewer district

• Look for water resources that could support a public water supply system

• Develop a pipeline of projects needed to further Comprehensive Plan objectives and pursue state funding for them

• Seek state and federal funding to expand the sidewalk system

• Appoint a committee to develop a Corridor Enhancement Plan for the Route 9G corridor through town

• Ensure that the town’s design guidelines contained in its zoning and subdivision laws are followed

• Establish a Conservation Advisory Committee

• Develop design guidelines to assist the Planning Board in reviewing projects within the town’s Waterfront Scenic Overlay District

• Create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (an LWRP committee already meets regularly)

• Assign the Business and Economic Development Committee, with grant funding, to produce a feasibility study to assess the likelihood of attracting medical/mental healthcare providers and support services to the town.

In November 2016 and January 2017, the Comprehensive Plan Committee held two “visioning” sessions, in which residents noted and discussed Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats (SWOT) of Germantown. These SWOTs have been analyzed, and the results are reported in Appendix B at the back of the Comprehensive Plan draft update.

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