After 13 years with the same Comprehensive Plan, the document guiding development in Saratoga Springs is due for an update.
The committee tasked with amending the plan was asked to produce a draft preserving many of the key features included in the 2001 document, which established the city-in-the country motif often used to characterize Saratoga Springs. And that’s why there aren’t many wholesale changes incorporated in the draft, said Geoff Borneman, the committee’s chairman.
“We weren’t going to make radical changes from the 2001 plan,” he said.
Rather the committee focused on looking toward the future of the city. Most notably, the plan includes a lot of language calling for sustainable practices, whether they be through advocating for greater energy efficiency or encouraging community gardens.
The draft also calls for a greater partnership between the public and private sectors. While the previous plan placed most of the onus on government, the draft makes recommendations that call on the private sector to effect change.
“We focused on making the actions both private and public sector actions,” he said.
Residents will get a chance to weigh in on the changes during a public hearing on the draft at 6 p.m. this evening at City Hall. The committee is expected to meet again on Dec. 18 to make any final changes before forwarding the plan to the City Council for adoption.
“We need people to come out for this,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said. “Other than the charter, this is the most important document the city will ever create.”
A draft of the plan and its associated documents is posted on the city’s website, www.saratoga-springs.org.
The public hearing follows the council’s decision to bar a section of the draft that would allow certain planned unit developments to locate within the city’s greenbelt — a measure that proved highly contentious on the committee. The council voted unanimously to prohibit such a change, meaning the committee will likely remove the language before sending the final document to the council sometime after the holidays.
If adopted by the council, the changes would be the first since the plan was adopted in 2001. An update was produced under former Mayor Valerie Keehn, but never acted upon by the council after she was voted out of office in 2007.
Mayor Scott Johnson established a new committee to update the plan in 2012, but rankled the rest of the council when he appointed all its members himself. The council’s Democratic majority then refused to provide $65,000 to hire a professional planner for the committee until each of the other four commissioners were allowed to appoint members.
Each commissioner was allowed to name two members to the committee, while Johnson received seven appointments. A pair of appointments have since left the committee, leaving it with 13 members.
Borneman acknowledged the start of the committee’s work more than 18 months ago was rocky. But he said the group has since produced a document that most are very pleased with.
“We’re largely satisfied,” he said.
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