How would a town look a few decades from now if every parcel of land was divvied up into the most sub-divisions allowed under current laws?
Pretty much like a patchwork quilt sewn with little, tiny scraps of fabric. That’s what the Milton Town Council discovered when presented with a map created by the town’s Open Space Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Presented by committee member Larry Woolbright, the map was the result of work launched in March 2007 to research the changing face of the town and to serve as a precursor to updating the master plan. The committee started out with a map from Saratoga County with all the land parcels drawn in. Then, taking into account taxable property, wetlands, roads and preserved space like parks, schools and town hall, the committee calculated how many pieces each property could be broken up into.
There were a lot of pieces.
This is a planning tool that allows us to imagine what the town could look like if there was build-out to the full extent allowed, said Woolbright.
`Obviously that’s not what we want to happen, but a build-out map lets us consider a variety of scenarios in any timeframe. The devil is in the details, and this was a very thorough process.`
The configurations for the subplots were painstakingly hand drawn on the town map as a senior project by a Siena College student. The resulting map was criss-crossed with postage-stamp-sized parcels.
`This is the worst-case scenario of what the town could look like,` Woolbright said. `I would suggest we need to revisit the comprehensive plan because if we don’t rewrite it, the town could look like this, with thousands of parcels.`
Woolbright urged the board to start thinking about what the build-out could mean to population, taxes, school systems and infrastructure.
Council members said they will begin wrestling with how the map could be used as a crystal ball into the future.
Town highway supervisor Dave Forbes suggested the committee use a map of build-out over the last 20 years as a measure of how quickly growth could occur over the next 20.
Town council member Hollis Blodgett said the map was an eye-opener for the board.
`I’m very concerned about this and where the town will end up in the future,` said Blodgett. `This is certainly a preliminary to studying the comprehensive plan. It’s been six or seven years and we need to take a very serious look. I encourage this board to start reviewing the plan in the very near future, and the committee’s work has given us a lot of guidance.`