Dec 14, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Development happens – why not be ready for it?
This is the mindset of the joint village and town Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, which contracted the assistance of urban design graduate students at Notre Dame to create a new plan for the town and village. The students met with town and village planning boards and officials in late September and held multiple public meetings to gather input from the community.
The students were in town the night of Saturday Dec. 11 to present the proposed plan – the process for which included putting the old, all text plan to maps. The “now and after” maps they drafted lined the walls of the district offices’ meeting room.
“The fact is, there is going to be development,” said committee member Bob Eggleston following the students’ presentation. “As soon as [one developer comes] into town, freeze it. I’ve been here 30 years and I keep seeing that every five years … we don’t want any more development, but it will occur.”
Cathy Dove, head of the committee, said one of their goals was to establish a “proactive vision” with regards to development.
“Because you’re not going to stop change, so the idea is, let’s have a plan,” Dove said.
The proposed plan “encourages development, but in a sustainable way,” said student presenter Jennifer Griffin. One goal was to encourage foot traffic in places other than Main Street.
“Right now when you come to this intersection you look down and see these parking lots and you’re not sure if you’re supposed to go down there or not,” Griffin said, pointing to the intersection of Fennell and Jordan streets. The plan suggests trees be planted along Fennel and more buildings built close to the road, “providing this pleasant pedestrian experience that allows for more retail to be up against the street so it’s kind of similar to the character and quality of [Main Street], which is what they really love – what the community really values,” Griffin said.
Also mapped out on Fennell Street was a civic square that would be host to a joint town and village hall building.
The comprehensive plan also approaches the issue of vehicles driving too fast as they enter the village by suggesting grassy boulevards be installed at the village’s east and west entrances. The boulevards would split route 20 into two narrower one-way lanes, separated by a median, encouraging traffic to slow down. Griffin compared the effect to how cars entering a narrow tunnel tend to slow down instinctively.
The students concluded that in order to facilitate appropriate development, the town code must be updated – recommending the town implement a form-based code.
A form-based code illustrates the density of development officials would like for specific areas of the town, Griffin said.
Audience members discussed the possibilities of having separate codes for the village and town, but Mayor Bob Green saw this as an opportunity to reorganize.
“It sounds like an opportune time to do a comprehensive zoning plan instead of town and village, that this be looked at comprehensively throughout the town,” Green said.
Alan Dolmatch, a committee member, was impressed with the students’ work.
“It’s far more work than our committee could’ve hoped for and it’s of very high quality,” he said, adding that it is now up to the committee and local officials to put it into real world context.
“Because obviously one can draw as well as one can possible futures, but getting there and getting the resources to make happen is an entirely different thing,” he said.
Dove noted their success in grasping “what this community is all about.” She felt the students had succeeded in mapping out the committee’s concepts – “making them visual in a way we can all relate to,” Dove said.
To learn more about the comprehensive plan, go to sites.google.com/site/ndskaneateles.
Ned Campbell is editor of the Eagle Observer.