DELMAR — The Town Board will host a public hearing to solicit comment on the Draft Comprehensive Plan Update when it meets on Wednesday, May 11, at 6 p.m.
The Town Board opened a public comment period nearly a month ago to provide input on the revised zoning plan. The draft document, provided by the Town Planning Department with the assistance of the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, is more than two years in the making.
The project consultant, SWBR, provided an overview of the Draft Plan to the Town Board on April 13, after more than 25 committee meetings to craft the document, which started in November 2019.
Town Supervisor David VanLuven said he was “grateful” to the planning team, having produced the draft document all while working through “the worst pandemic in a century.”
“Our Planning Department and our incredible advisory committee did a great job pulling together hundreds of comments and recommendations from community members and crafting them into an ambitious and exciting vision for Bethlehem,” VanLuven said. “I am so grateful to our planning team, our advisory committee, and all the residents who participated so constructively for their great work on this vital plan. I look forward to using it as a template to guide our Town government’s activities over the next decade.”
The 216-page plan update directs investing in infrastructure improvements and public facilities, addresses housing needs, considers new zoning regulations, conserves ecologically sensitive areas, becomes more environmentally sustainable by addressing climate change and resiliency, and recommends issues for further study.
“Of all the different agencies putting out guidelines, we looked to the New York State Climate Action Council and their scoping plan, said SWBR Project Manager Bill Price in April. “That seems to be the one document that ought to be followed in regard to climate action.”
The committee established several value statements organized by themes to define the plan’s expectations for 2035, including community, public services, environment/sustainability, land use and transportation. Six overarching principles, based on the American Planning Association’s Sustaining Places: Best Practices for Comprehensive Plans (January 2015), were identified as interwoven equity, livable built environment, harmony with nature, resilient economy, healthy community, and responsible governance and regionalism.
The principles are summarized below:
Interwoven Equity – Ensure fairness and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, safety and livelihood needs of all citizens and groups.
Livable Built Environment – Ensure that all elements of the built environment, including land use, transportation, housing, energy and infrastructure work together to provide sustainable, green places for living, working and recreation, with a high quality of life. Recognize that historic buildings and structures provide character assets to the built environment.
Harmony with Nature – Ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued and that maintaining their health is a primary objective.
Resilient Economy – Ensure that the community is prepared to deal with both positive and negative changes in its economic health and to initiate sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies that foster green business growth and build reliance on local assets.
Healthy Community – Ensure that public health needs are recognized and addressed through provisions for healthy foods, physical activity with access to recreation and social interaction, physical and emotional health care, environmental justice and safe neighborhoods.
Responsible Governance and Regionalism – Ensure continued efficiencies in the delivery of public services through collaborative governance and that all local proposals account for, connect with and support the mutually beneficial plans of adjacent jurisdictions and the surrounding Capital Region.
Approval of the plan update is expected by next month, following the conclusion of the public comment period, adoption of SEQR Resolution, and any additional adjustments.