Jan 23, 2007 Willie Kiernan Uncategorized
EDR sets the groundwork
Planning company offers tools for development of Route 20 corridor
By Willie Kiernan
The Cazenovia Town Board convened a special meeting to discuss its future options for Route 20 East in the town of Cazenovia with the public Thursday Jan. 18 in the Cazenovia High School Auditorium. Around 200 attendees were encouraged to share their thoughts on what is dubbed the Route 20 corridor in public or in writing.
The town of Cazenovia hired Environmental Design & Research, a Syracuse planning company, to assist with the future development of the Route 20 corridor between the village of Cazenovia and the town of Nelson. This was the second in a series of meetings where EDR, represented by Doug Brackett and Jane Rice, presented its findings, which builds on previous work done by the Cazenovia Area Planning Project and the Route 20 Committee.
“EDR has brought us very helpful tools,” said Liz Moran, Cazenovia Town Supervisor.
The tools mentioned are ways to control or desist the development of land in the future by creating guidelines, regulations and easements that acquiesce to the style, character and form that the involved Cazenovia consensus can agree upon. For this to occur, it was suggested that the zoning laws would have to be changed.
Where are we going?
EDR presented the beginning of the comprehensive plan by explaining what could happen if no zone changes were made. Currently, the town has no available property that is zoned for commercial usage. A Power-Point presentation illustrated how 110 to 150 houses adhering to current regulations, could be built just outside the village. There could be sub-divisions and cul-de-sacs that are not connected to each other. The views would be unprotected and developments could be non-responsive to the natural form of the land. Cazenovia currently lacks a site plan review process for a prospective developer and the planning board.
Citing the unique community sense of place, agricultural heritage, rural character and appreciation for open space view sheds, EDR concluded that with current zoning, which is R-A or one-acre residential, the town has inadequate local land use laws.
Where do we want to be?
“We didn’t come here with a blank slate,” Rice said.
The presentation listed the input of the community as well as the CAPP and the Route 20 corridor studies done in the past. With that data collected, EDR concluded that they needed to encourage healthy, sustainable growth while protecting the green, rural character of the area. The plan will comprise of protecting open spaces, preferred views, cultural and architectural resources and sensitive resources, such as the aquifer re-charge area, while also respecting the rights of property holders.
“Is the town experiencing fiscal constraint?” asked Cazenovia resident Claudia St. John.
While residential development will add to the tax base, it also requires more services, causing more of a tax burden. Commercial development, with the collection of sales taxes could be a far greater addition to the tax base.
“We want to protect our diversity and avoid being a bedroom community,” Moran said. “We are in one of the most highest taxed areas in the country. We want to keep the people who are here because that diversity is what makes Cazenovia the vibrant community that it is.”
Because of growth and development pressure, and a majority of the public passionately voicing disdain for rushed development at recent town meetings, the town has called a moratorium on any new plans. That moratorium expires in March. According to town attorney John Langey, moratoriums can be extended, but only for a reasonable length of time.
“The town must demonstrate moving forward as a requirement for a moratorium extension,” Langey said.
“So we shouldn’t have to panic?” said Cazenovia resident Sharye Skinner.
“Don’t panic,” Moran advised.
An extension of the moratorium will be necessary because, according to Rice, the plan won’t be finished by March, but certainly within a year.
How do we get there?
CDR and the town board will attempt to sustain a comprehensive plan by creating conservation sub-division regulations and bonuses for developers as guidelines for acceptable land use. For instance, a parcel of land is 40 acres. Under current law, 40 homes may be built on such a parcel. But suppose there are some wetlands, flood lands and hills on the parcel that add up to 10 acres. Under possible new guidelines, this would mean 30 acres of buildable land, hence only 30 houses.
Another step in this process is analyzing other conservation values of the parcel. Maybe there is an old stone wall that needs to be kept intact or a certain rare form of vegetation. Developers would have to consider these cultural and natural resources in their planning. Density bonuses could be increased for the developers benefit if certain criteria were met, such as an increase in open space, additional setbacks and land usage for community trails, to name just a few examples. By achieving certain criteria, the developer may be able to add more units to the parcel.
A third step in the planning involves permanent conservation easement. That’s when property rights are maintained and kept as is, forever, whether it’s rural designs, landforms, structures, vegetation or a circulation system.
“We want to give you a toolbox of tools to help achieve your desired goals,” Rice said.
About that view
Bob Lucas was in attendance and had something to say about the view shed property across the street from the P&C Plaza.
“My parents bought that property as an investment 30 years ago, now they want to sell it,” said Lucas. “I’m glad you’ve all been enjoying the view but nobody ever came along to help pay the taxes. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.”
Rice admitted that the hard part was still ahead and that the public will be kept informed as the planning process moves forward. The next meeting will be in a couple of months.