Ancram obeys plan’s command to review the plan

ANCRAM—It seems just like yesterday that the town adopted its first Comprehensive Plan, a sort of blueprint for local growth and development based on what people who live here want the future to look like.

That was June 2010 and now, just eight years later, the town has undertaken a review of its Comprehensive Plan to find out if residents think the vision and goals it contains are still appropriate/applicable today.

Asked why the review is happening now, Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin said by phone this week, because the Comp Plan says so.

The plan recommends that the town reviews and, if necessary, modifies zoning on an annual basis, and formally reviews and updates the Comprehensive Plan at least every five years,” according to the plan.

So, starting back in February the Comp Plan Review Committee (CPRC) held its first meeting and will meet monthly on the third Monday throughout the year.

Additionally, the committee has held two town-wide workshops in March and April; three separate meetings with hamlet groups from Ancram, Ancramdale and Boston Corners; and meetings with members of the fire company, councils, boards, task forces and committees.

About 90 people have participated, the supervisor said.

Next on the agenda is the distribution of a town-wide survey to get residents’ input. Mr. Bassin said the survey will be sent out by email and postal service mail by the end of May.

The 15-member CPRC is expected to report back to the Town Board by the end of 2018 on any recommended modifications to the 2010 Comprehensive Plan.

So far, the CPRC, which Mr. Bassin co-chairs along with Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Hugh Clark, has not heard anything surprising.

Mr. Bassin said since the vision and goals of the 2010 Comp Plan were widely endorsed and the town has adequately acted on many of them, the emphasis has shifted to those aspects that have not yet been effectively addressed—such as the center of Ancram—particularly the Route 82/county Route 7 intersection and the dilapidated buildings there.

Mr. Bassin said situation is complicated because both matters are not directly under the town’s control.

At the April 19 Town Board meeting, Councilman Clark said that while all the issues mentioned at CPRC meetings had not been surprising, he did hear complaints from neighbors about a “bothersome” commercial human septage dumping operation on Sawchuk Road. He said the operator has permits issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), but neighbors claim he is not following proper procedures. The operator’s permit is up for renewal in May, Mr. Clark said, and someone from the DEC was expected to inspect the situation April 20 and inform the Town Board about the findings at its next meeting.

Contacted by email, DEC Public Information Officer Rick Georgeson told The Columbia Paper, “Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on your inquiry regarding septage in Ancram at this time.”

Also at the Town Board meeting, Mr. Bassin said he had again met with representatives from the county Highway Department and the state Department of Transportation about the Route 82/county Route 7 intersection, April 16.

They had a “good talk,” he said, and concluded that engineering work would be extremely critical in any reconfiguration of the intersection. He said the grade going up county Route 7 “may be a show stopper” because changes to that grade with affect all the driveways north of the intersection almost as far as Doodletown Road.

They also spoke about the need to move or demolish the Stiehle house on the south side of Route 82 to improve the left hand turn onto county Route 7, a project that would cost an estimated “$10 million” and involve an “extensive retaining wall,” Mr. Bassin said. For now, the plan is to do some road-striping and move some “light posts” to improve the sight distance up Route 82.

Mr. Clark, who was also at the intersection conference, said crosswalks at the crossroads are an impossibility because “you have to have sidewalks before you can have crosswalks.”

The Town Board’s next meeting is May 17, 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

To contact Diane Valden email

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