February 6, 2014
C’ville land use plan criticized
More than a dozen people attend informational meeting on proposal
CORTLANDVILLE — More than a dozen residents braved snowy roads to attend an informational meeting on the town’s proposed land use plan Wednesday night.
Following the Town Board’s regularly scheduled meeting, the public session was led by a presentation from Clough Harbour & Associates Principal Planner Walt Kalina.
After a half-hour PowerPoint presentation, Kalina opened up the floor to residents harboring doubts about the number of changes that the land use plan represented for the town.
Kalina highlighted the purpose of the plan, which centered around controlling development and discouraging development in unfavorable areas. A key factor the plan took into consideration was existing infrastructure, such as sewer and water, as well as similar, nearby development.
“One of the things we don’t want to create is more tax burdens on the community,” Kalina said. “That’s often the result of ‘leapfrog’ development, by that I mean moving development out into the more rural areas of the town.”
Leapfrog development can prove expensive, as it can strain municipalities as more extensive roads and water and sewer lines are put in place. This can result in higher taxes as residents take on the burden of the development, Kalina said.
The primary focus of the draft plan centered around the expansion of R-1 zoning, which is low-density single-family dwelling, and R-2 zoning, low and medium-density housing with municipal water and sewer. It also designates a new zoning district, Business Industrial Campus, which would allow developments similar to the Finger Lakes East Business Park, which attracted the Byrne Dairy yogurt plant (now under construction).
Even planned development was viewed uneasily by landowners affected by the target areas of the land use plan. Chad Cotterill, who lives on Westmore Lane, said he was concerned about properties he had recently purchased.
Cotterill said his home is on the lower end of fields that were slated for development and he is worried the water that flows into an empty lot alongside his property may end up in his basement. He also worried about traffic on Kinney Gulf Road, should housing development increase in the area.
Also speaking was Ann Hotchkin, chair of the Cortland County Planning Board that voted unanimously against a recommendation of approval for the plan in December.
Hotchkin said that Kalina’s presentation had more information than the Planning Board was given while making its recommendation. She said the board found the plan had too much tunnel vision toward its objective of creating R-1 residential zones when there was no pressing demand.
“In the last full year, according to this plan, there’s only been 12 permits taken out for single-family residential,” Hotchkin said. “Why the rush to take all this acreage and put it into R-1 if the demographics don’t show that kind of need?”
Kalina agreed the issuance of housing permits in the town was not very robust, having peaked in 2006, but told the audience that changes in zoning did not necessitate sweeping property changes or housing developments.
“Those areas that are being considered, it’s not like we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of houses,” Kalina said. “I don’t see that trend changing a lot in the community.”
Stephen Flatt said he thought those who were consulted about the project seemed to be businesses with a vested interest in the changes the land use plan promoted.
“They made a comment that indicated they took a lot of input from developers and Realtors and builders,” Flatt said. “When I see that, I see a group of people with a vested interest in making the land use plan go their way so they can make money.”
Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said the committee would take a look at the recommendations of the community when it constructs a more finalized version of the draft plan.
“We’re nowhere near, obviously, taking it to the point where we’re going to redo our maps,” Tupper said. “Everything will be considered before we reach any kind of a final decision.”
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