February 28, 2012
Plan lays out 130 goals for city
After nearly five years, the city is moving forward with its plan for the future.
Mayor Brian Tobin said last week the city will likely adopt its comprehensive plan in the next month or two. The city Planning Commission and Common Council will have to set public hearings and formally adopt the plan.
Once adopted, the plan will serve as a blueprint for use of land, resources, economic development and residential life. It offers about 130 goals for the next 20 years.
The plan says the city has some tough issues to address.
“Cortland is at a crossroads,” the city’s comprehensive plans says. “The blue collar manufacturing community that Cortland once was is largely gone. The City must fundamentally redefine and reinvent itself in order to reverse the decline of recent decades and remain a viable community in the future.”
Tobin said city attorney Kelly Colasurdo is reviewing the plan.
Zoning is an important issue identified in the plan. The mayor said the city should begin looking at changing its ordinances sometime this year.
“It’s been a long time since the city has addressed zoning uses,” Tobin said.
The plan suggests adjusting zoning in the city, with the goal of encouraging more housing development in certain areas, such as downtown Cortland, while limiting rental housing in single-family neighborhoods.
“The City must proactively move to preserve single-family neighborhoods as the current zoning code is not providing sufficient protection,” the plan says.
The city began working on the plan in 2007. The plan was developed with a $54,000 community grant from the state Department of State.
Thoma Development Consultants prepared it, with input from a steering committee and local residents.
The plan also suggests the city should improve the main entryways into downtown Cortland from Port Watson Street and Clinton Avenue.
Other recommended initiatives include increasing code enforcement and improving downtown Cortland and the city’s relationship with SUNY Cortland.
Economic development is another challenge.
Since the city lacks undeveloped land, the plan says the city must look to its “brownfields,” which are formerly developed properties that may be subject to pollution or contamination from previous uses.
The city has a few brownfields, such as the Wickwire and Rosen sites in the South End and the Buckbee-Mears property on Kellogg Road.
The city has already pursued a few of the goals from the plan, such as creating vacant building registry and its proposed rental permit program. It has also started studying brownfield sites and entryways into the city.
Richard Cunningham, program manager for Thoma Development, said the plan will not replace zoning regulations but should be consulted when it comes to land use and development in the city.
“Any city needs to know where they are going in order to make decisions,” Cunningham said.
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