CDM_trafton_hunter plan

CDM_trafton_hunter plan

MWC
Submitted by Sarah Trafton Columbia-Greene Media on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 11:00 pm

Hunter’s new comp plan open to public scrutiny

HUNTER — After more than a year of work, the town’s new comprehensive plan is open to public comment.

The town’s Comprehensive Steering Committee will hold a public hearing for the draft at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Mountaintop Library in Tannersville. The plan defines goals for the town’s economy, transportation, environment, housing, aesthetics, cultural, educational, historical and recreational opportunities and government and community services.

“It’s certainly an update,” Councilman Sean Mahoney said, adding the plan has not been updated since 2000. “A lot has changed in the last 20 years.”

Town officials realized the previous plan was outdated when they referred to its land-use laws, Councilman David Kukle said.

“We’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of development in the last 20 years,” he said. “If this trend continues, we’ll be well set up to make decisions in the right way.”

The plan will provide guidance based on current and future conditions of the town, while using practices from other communities, Mahoney said.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not a law,” he said. “It’s a guidance document. It helps us if we want to change things.”

The process of creating the draft began in 2017. Prior to drafting the plan, the committee identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the town through committee meetings, focus groups, joint board meetings, public workshops, and a town survey that had 393 responses, according to the plan.

Community outreach was a significant part of drafting the document, Kukle said.

“It’s the pulse of the community,” he added.

More than 100 residents gave input about the vision for the town at a workshop in the Hunter Elementary School cafeteria last year, Mahoney said, adding businesses, residents and local officials are each part of the town’s ongoing success.

The committee is also looking to make transportation more up-to-date and affordable, create a range of housing opportunities for all ages and incomes, to maintain the natural beauty and community character of the town and to make year-round educational, artistic, cultural and recreational opportunities a priority, according to the plan.

The town will work conserve natural resources and expand energy conservation, according to the plan.

After this month’s hearing, the committee will make final changes to the draft before submitting it to the town board, Mahoney said.

“We’ll review the feedback, both negative and positive and reintegrate the feedback into the plan,” he said. “We’ve also had suggestions for improvements, and I expect more.”

Kukle expects the plan will be well-received.

“Some people want it [the plan], and some people don’t want things to change,” Councilman Dolph Semenza said. “And that’s what this is going to do — initiate change, especially in what’s going where, what can be built where, if it will be commercial, residential or a combination of both.”

The town board must hold a public hearing within 90 days of receiving the proposed comprehensive plan. Once the board has reviewed the draft, it will go to the county for review, according to the town’s website.

After 30 days, the board will review the plan’s environmental impact and vote to adopt or reject it.

If the board votes to adopt the plan, the town could begin to take action on goals outlined in it, which could cause modifications to existing laws, Mahoney said.

“There will be a long-term effect,” Semenza said. “This will be the future of the town of Hunter. This is changing the scope of development in Hunter and I think it’s for the better.”

The plan will need to be updated a minimum of every five years, Mahoney said.

“It’s like a living document,” Kukle said. “The plan keeps moving forth and has to be revisited in order to stay current.”

To see the proposed plan, visit townofhuntergov.com/comprehensive-plan

Comments will be accepted until Oct. 1 at tohcplan@gmail.com or can be shared at the Sept. 25 public hearing.