Joe Jurczynski was traveling through Aurelius near the Finger Lakes this summer when he saw first-hand the importance for a small rural community to have a modern comprehensive plan.
Developers bought up vast tracts of farm land in the community, which like Princetown is also located on Route 20 and has a comparable population. But without a modern comprehensive plan in place, Aurelius was unable to provide any guidance to the pace or type of development and large retailers were quick to take advantage of it.
“Now it’s 48 acres of blacktop and big box buildings,” he said Friday. “And if the cards fall a certain way, Princetown could be saddled with a similar monstrosity.”
The frustrating part for Jurczynski, the chairman of Princetown’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, is his belief that the long-awaited update to the town’s guiding document is being stifled. The committee submitted its final draft of the 76-page document to the Town Board more than a year ago and he’s seen little to suggest the plan nearing adoption.
“All the work that we put into it, it just seems like the town board is trying to shuffle it underneath the carpet,” he said. “It just rankles me personally.”
Meanwhile, the town’s Zoning Review Committee has crafted three local law amendments that are scheduled to be addressed by board members during their meeting Tuesday.
Jurczynski and several others in the comprehensive plan committee fear the zoning updates are further evidence of the board’s unwillingness to address the draft document. “It appears as though they don’t like the comprehensive plan and they want to do whatever they want in spite of it,” he said.
in the works
But Supervisor Melanie Whiteley insists the update is progressing, even if it’s taking a bit longer than some of the committee members had expected. She said the plan was reviewed by the Schenectady County Planning Department and has been passed on to the town’s Zoning Review Committee for comments.
“This document has not sat idle since we got it,” she said. “We just want to be very thorough with it before we adopt it.”
Whiteley said the zoning review committee’s work is to address situations that need immediate attention. The three recommendations cover regulations for the bulk sale of water, amend the town’s commercial zoning to include warehouse development, and tweak special use permit laws governing water purveyors.
“Those things had to take precedent at the time,” she said.
A call placed to Karen Lewandowski, the zoning review committee chairwoman, was not returned Friday.
Princetown’s comprehensive plan committee was formed in 2006 and charged with crafting the first update to the document since it was first produced in 1988. After work on the update stalled, the nine-member committee successfully lobbied the town board to hire a private consultant to assist them.
In February 2008, board members allocated up to $29,000 to hire Nan Stolzenburg of the Community Planning & Environmental Associates in Berne as a consultant. With her help, they were able to produce a final draft in July 2009.
Town board members initially gave the document a cool reception during a review in August. At the time, some indicated that it appeared to impinge on the rights of property owners.
Both Whiteley and former Supervisor Nick Maura Jr. ran on a campaign to finally get the update adopted. During her campaign, Whiteley had suggested the plan could be passed during early 2010.
The county’s planning department finished reviewing the updated document in March. Planning commissioner Ray Gillen said the county made several comments that were minor and technical in nature.
Norm Miller, a member of the comprehensive plan committee, doesn’t believe the town board is any nearer to adopting the update than when it was originally submitted. He contests Whiteley’s assertion that it has been under review. He called on the board to schedule a meeting with both committees and the consultant to discuss the plan, if they are indeed interested in adopting the update.
“The comprehensive plan, if it’s left with this present board, will just die,” he said.
Whiteley said the delay in adoption has more to do with ensuring such an important document is representative of the values of the town. She said the more people who review the update, the better it will ultimately be.
“It’s about making sure we cover all off our bases before we adopt it,” she said, “It’s a good thing to get as many eyes as we can on this thing to make sure its good for our community.”