Regime change in Princetown will never have the same kind of cosmic impact as in a place like Iran or Syria. But it can still have significant consequences, and, in fact, did when current Supervisor Mike Joyce defeated his predecessor, Melanie Whiteley, and took over in 2011. One of the most significant is the new comprehensive plan adopted by the Town Board on Oct. 29.
Thanks to Whiteley and some friends and family members, this plan, drawn up by a professional consultant in 2009, has been a highly contentious issue in Princetown the last four years. It shouldn’t have been: All it is is a plan to guide growth in a reasonable way, a way that preserves the town’s rural character — something that Princetown needs and residents in a 2008 survey said they want. The last comprehensive plan was done in 1988.
While Princetown hasn’t exactly grown like one of those Saratoga County towns during that time, it has grown, with business as well as residents, and will grow more in the coming years. The question is how? Will it be with little control, like neighboring Rotterdam? Or with smart growth, which concentrates development and mixes uses in certain areas (such as routes 7 and 20), while preserving farmland, open space and scenic views.
Whiteley and company overstated the impact of the 2009 plan, claiming that it would require many new regulations and create undue hardship for landowners. They tried to undermine it in any way possible, including creating a new committee with directions to merge it with the 1988 plan — an effort that resulted in a sloppy, far inferior plan that Joyce eventually, and mercifully, dropped.
The new plan adopted by the Town Board in October is basically the 2009 plan with a few tweaks. The next step is to change zoning and land-use regulations to turn this vision into reality. One can only hope that process goes smoother and faster than this one did.