In hopes of expanding Cazenovia’s tax base, a committee to reevaluate the Comprehensive Plan and examine what areas in the village may benefit from development, was established at the March 5 village board meeting.
The newly-formed committee will be tasked with inspecting the portion of the Comprehensive Plan which deals with zoning on Village Edge South, while maintaining the community’s aesthetic character and creating opportunities for economic development. Once the group presents their findings and suggestions, the board will then decide whether or not to move forward with alterations.
“My personal opinion is that 95 percent of the Comprehensive Plan has been a homerun. I think in terms of the lake, trees, planning ahead for infrastructure and so many of the things that were called for, we’re doing a tremendous job with,” Mayor Kurt Wheeler said. “I feel like the balance we struck with Village Edge South is the 3 to 5 percent that I’m not 100 percent sold on … I think that looking at this is the best thing for the community, and that is the only reason I am bringing it forward. I think it’s a win-win.”
Eight residents were assigned to the committee, of which Wheeler will serve as the chairman. Members include William Hall of the Village Planning Board, Phil Byrnes of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, Ted Bartlett of the Historic Preservation Committee, Karen Eldridge of the Historic Cazenovia Business District, Bill Zupan on the Cazenovia Town Board, Don Ferlow of the Cazenovia Area Conservation Commission and one member from the village’s Economic Development Committee, who is yet to be determined.
Trustee Peggy Van Arnam was absent at the meeting, but the four present board members, as well as members of the audience, shared mixed feelings about the necessity of reworking parts of the plan.
Trustee Amy Mann voiced her concern for reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, as two years of work and innumerable hours of consideration was put into it by the original committee members. During the meeting, she read from a letter she had prepared.
“I have spent the past month listening to various points of view, and am still working out my own opinions,” Mann said. “I do not undo or re-do other people’s work frivolously … when I look around the village, I still see Riverside with no plan, unfilled retail space both in the Historic Cazenovia Business District and [Town and County] Plaza, and abandoned properties with no use. I guess if I felt like we had exhausted all of our other development opportunities and had people lining up for Village Edge South, or if a St. Joseph’s or other organization which could offer a needed service to our community showed up, I would more readily jump on board. But I don’t see those things.”
Trustee Dave Porter said he would be comfortable reexamining the plan, as it doesn’t mean the village board would be obligated to make the changes, once presented. “I’m a little cautious myself. I don’t understand the Comprehensive Plan completely as well as those who have spent a lot of time with it. There seem to be people who want to take a look at it and there are some people who don’t want to take a look,” he said. I’m comfortable taking a look at it.”
Trustee Tim Mahoney commented that if any developments on Village Edge South do occur, they should be carefully designed to be in keeping with the community’s character. “I’d like to see an architectural review of all new commercial construction that goes on in our community, specifically on Village Edge South,” he said. “It just seems that some of the structures that have been built over the past couple of years are lacking in what I would consider to be within keeping with our rural and historic community.”
Work on the Comprehensive Plan began in 2006, with the bulk of it being completed in 2007, Wheeler said. The plan was finalized and officially adopted in the summer of 2008, after much deliberation.
Russ Brownback, a Cazenovia resident who served on the original committee, attended the March 5 village board meeting to voice his opinion on the reexamination of the plan.
“I think the notion of reviewing the Comprehensive Plan proactively makes a ton of sense. Brownback said. “The committee … sounds like it’s diverse, good and representative of lots of the different constituents in the area. I feel like a ‘big-picture perspective’ is very much in order as [the village] enter[s] this process, and it has to be positive. We need to think about what is happening across the country since we passed the plan – nothing shy of the greatest recession that this county has seen since the 1930s … I would just ask that this have a positive beginning. This process is about making that which is imperfect, maybe a little less so.”
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.