May 27, 2008 Willie Kiernan Uncategorized
Public meeting Wednesday night: The future is now
By Willie Kiernan
On Wednesday May 28, the public is invited to share their thoughts and concerns regarding the Comprehensive Plan with members of the village and town boards at 7 p.m. in the municipal building. It’s their last chance.
“This final public hearing will be used by the town and village boards as we consider the environmental assessment of adopting the comprehensive plan,” said Liz Moran, Cazenovia Town Supervisor.
The process has been years in the making and has been worked on by many community volunteers.
“The public hearing on May 28 is to comply with the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act,” Moran said. “The comprehensive planning committees for the town and village convened a public hearing on March 18 to receive comments. The two boards have considered those comments and made changes where appropriate to the draft document. A final version has been prepared by EDR. Copies are available for review at the town and village offices and the Cazenovia Public Library.”
A comprehensive plan is a written document that identifies the goals, objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards, and strategies for the growth and development of the community.
“I’m a taxpayer paying on over $6 million in assessments,” said Dave Muraco of Empire Management. “I have an additional project before the planning board since 2006 of an additional $6 to 8 million with apartments, retail offices and restaurants. But with this Comprehensive Plan, it’s restricting me so much that they know I can’t do this project.”
“It’s important to look at the plan in its entirety,” said Kurt Wheeler, Cazenovia Village Trustee. “Ninety percent of the attention is being focused on ten percent of the plan, but it is very broad and constructive in its overall approach. Many vital issues of community interest are addressed very proactively; from green space and ag-land preservation to lake watershed issues to conservation subdivision regulations and infrastructure improvement.”
A comprehensive plan is a general community plan that describes land use patterns according to whether a given district or parcel will be devoted to residential, commercial, or industrial use. Such a plan also includes transportation, public facilities, and sometimes social services or redevelopment (urban renewal) plans.
“Originally it was about character and form, then they changed it to no retail,” said ex-mayor Dennis Gregg. “Properties on Route 20 should be treated equally.”
A comprehensive plan is a document, or series of documents, that serves as a guide for making land use changes, preparation of capital improvement programs, and the rate, timing, and location of future growth.
“What’s going to get built?” Muraco said. “CazCares has a long lease. McDonalds isn’t going anywhere. They should let me build these things so we can raise tax money. I’m a substantial taxpayer and they don’t listen to me. If I’m restricted, I can’t develop. Taxes are going to rise without these developments. Maybe they want to stop me, and if that’s the case, so be it. But they are also stopping anyone else from developing.”
A comprehensive plan is based upon establishing long-term goals and objectives to guide the future growth of a city. It is also known as a master or general plan.
“We want the opportunity to do what we want,” said Bob Lucas, whose family owns the property across from the P&C plaza. “The village has a huge debt against them with the problems of infrastructure.”
One of the most positive unplanned consequences of the comprehensive planning process has been the exceptional relationship that has been cultivated between the village and town.
“We now enjoy an extremely cordial and cooperative relationship that will benefit our broader community and our taxpayers in many ways in the years to come,” Wheeler said.
Elements of a comprehensive plan include: Economic development, environment, housing, land use, recreation and open space, and transportation.
“The village just needed to tweak the old plan,” Gregg said. “This has grown and snowballed out of control. It’s not a comprehensive plan; I don’t know what it is. It’s too big and bulky and can’t be understood.”
A comprehensive plan is a plan for development of an area which recognizes the physical, economic, social, political, aesthetic, and related factors of the community involved.
“This plan promotes no growth,” Gregg said. “With the economy, things are at a standstill anyway. We don’t need any more infringements.”
Through a long and engaging process, the town and village of Cazenovia, with the aid of EDR and various volunteers have endeavored to find a consensus within the community regarding the shape, tone, function, look and nature of the future. After the first public meeting, the original plan has been altered in the spirit of compromise.
“There wasn’t a compromise for me,” Muraco said. “I thought I was coming in to take a commercial property and make an upgrade.”
Muraco has purchased the Cazenovia Motel and wants to move Rite Aid across Route 20 so that they can have a drive-thru, stand-alone building. In keeping with character, the plan allows for retail downtown and on the north side of Route 20, not the south.
“Zoning cannot save businesses,” Muraco said. “Business is about turning over inventory, fresh ideas, open seven days a week, friendly service, pricing and competition.”
Many residents fear the sprawl that has squeezed Manlius, where downtown has lost much of its vitality.
“The Manlius strip mall on Route 92 had nothing to do with downtown Manlius,” Muraco said. “Flannery’s was there then they went out of business. That site, with the chicken coops, reminds me of the grounds of the Caz Motel.”
Muraco, Gregg and Lucas, as well as some others, feel that each project should be treated individually and that more revenue must be generated to sustain an environment where regular people can afford to live.
“We need to keep people shopping here,” Gregg said. “Go back 40 to 50 years; this was a self-sufficient community.”
A comprehensive plan is a statement of a community’s goals and a conceptual road map for how to achieve them.
“We used to shop for Christmas, for school clothes, everything,” Lucas said. “Now we go to Onondaga County. Dave’s a developer; he knows what works and what doesn’t work. He knows who wants to develop here.”
A comprehensive plan is an all-inclusive, long-range plan for the future growth of a community. The plan is designed to reflect community values and goals, and is built into local law once it is completed to guide policymakers regarding decisions about the physical development of the community.
“The very essence of a planning process like the one we’ve just been through is to identify the interests of a majority of community residents and then create solutions which attempt to carry out those interests,” said Russ Brownback, Cazenovia Village Trustee, at a March 28 meeting.
“Keep the spirit of the plan but don’t go into the details of the last portion,” Muraco said. “Wait and see what the economic possibilities will be.”
A comprehensive plan is not a detailed instruction manual that tells exactly what to do or what will happen.
“It’ll strangle the economy of the village,” Lucas said.
A comprehensive plan does not predict the future, although it does look ahead and express the community’s goals for the future.
“It’s unenforceable, a bad product,” Gregg said.
A comprehensive plan is not the law.
“It’s a Mickey Mouse plan,” Muraco said.
“No, it’s Goofy!” Gregg said.
The entire Cazenovialand community is invited to be heard at 7 p.m. Wednesday May 28 in the municipal building.
“The people who founded Cazenovia and shaped it during the 1800s had a clear vision for what they wanted our community to be,” Wheeler said. “The parks, the streets, the trees, the neighborhoods that we continue to enjoy today did not happen by accident – they were the products of planning and investment. The goal of the planning process was to identify the assets that are most precious to our community and to protect and enhance them as we move into the future. We have a duty to do more than simply respond to market forces if we want Cazenovia to remain the special place that it is today. We must have a vision for what we want Cazenovia to become for our children and grandchildren.”