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January 19, 2017 - 12:39pm

Latest version of county's Smart Growth Plan ready for legislative review

posted by Howard B. Owens in smart growth, planning, land use, Oakfield, Alabama.

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Up next for the county's tri-annual update to our Smart Growth Plan is a presentation Feb. 13 to the Public Service Committee of the Genesee County Legislature.

Planning Director Felipe Oltramari and planning staff have toured the county, providing interested residents at town-hall-style meetings information and maps outlining the proposed changes to the plan.

The final such meeting was Tuesday at the community center in Oakfield and covered the proposed plan for Oakfield and Alabama.

The goal of the plan is to protect farmland from suburban-like sprawl and guide population centers toward a denser, mixed-use, more pedestrian-friendly environment.

These are the types of communities younger generations of families and workers are looking for, Oltramari said. Younger families want to have more amenities and services within walking distance of their homes and have a stronger sense of neighborhood than offered by traditional suburban development where all lots are the same size, all homes have the same floor plan and residents come home from work, pull into their garage and never say "hi" to a neighbor.

The plan for Oakfield (pdf) includes allowing development along Pearl Street out to Batavia Oakfield Townline Road.

In response to a resident's question, Oltramari suggested this area is well positioned for the kind of denser, mixed-use, walkable neighborhood many people want these days.

A resident brought up a decades-old housing development in Le Roy that is more than a mile outside of the village and noted residents just drive to Tops, and "what's wrong with that?" and Oltramari said those are the kind of developments that contribute to the decline of villages such as Le Roy.

Islands of suburban-like development tend to encourage people to move out of older villages and don't bring in new residents, he said, and then the old Victorian homes in the village become multi-unit rentals.

"What happened along with that is their downtown died," Oltramari said. "A lot of people who used to walk into the shops, a lot of families whose kids used to walk to school and go downtown are not there anymore. They’re being bussed and they’re being driven and a lot of people who live in the village are transient people. There are consequences to doing that, but when you build little neighborhoods, you tend to attract people from the outside."

The Smart Growth Plan contemplates new homes being built that fit into a hamlet's or village's character (differing lot sizes, different architectural treatments), but helps keep homes clustered around the village, which will encourage rehab of the remaining older homes.

For Alabama (pdf), growth could mean a demand for more housing, but instead of converting farmland into housing tracts, the plan is designed to grow the existing hamlet into a village.

None of this -- like any planning document -- is written into stone, Oltramari noted after Tuesday's meeting. There are processes to override the plan, but those are difficult barriers to overcome. A town's board, the county planning board and the County Legislature would all have to approve a development not fitting in the current development boundaries, and if that happened there would be legal challenges.

The Smart Growth Plan development process dates back to 2001 and was part of the agreement to bring Monroe County Water into Genesee County. The county is required to update the plan every three years in order to continue to expand the public water supply flowing from Monroe County Water.

There are future funding mechanisms dependent on abiding by the plan, and the Sierra Club is on record, Oltramari said, of claiming it is prepared to file a lawsuit if the county doesn't develop and abide by the plan to protect farmland.

For more on the Smart Growth Plan, and to view maps for each community that outline development areas, click here. The Feb. 13 meeting, likely to start at 4:30 p.m. at the Old Courthouse, is open to the public.

Brian Graz
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The plan for Oakfield [my original hometown] is to develop S Pearl St out to Bat/Oak TLRd... and the purpose for this is... to create a "denser, mixed-use, walkable neighborhood"... WALK TO WHERE? Oh, I guess Mr Oltramari told us in the previous paragraph... "Younger families want to have more amenities and services within walking distance of their homes". So I ask again, what amenities are these dense families on S Pearl St supposedly going to walk to? School [2-2.5mi]?, WalMart [4.5-5mi]?, maybe the Paradise Bowling Lanes [

Brian Graz
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Well, wonders of winders... my above comment got chopped off. Let's try again.
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The plan for Oakfield [my original hometown] is to develop S Pearl St out to Bat/Oak TLRd... and the purpose for this is... to create a "denser, mixed-use, walkable neighborhood"... WALK TO WHERE? Oh, I guess Mr Oltramari told us in the previous paragraph... "Younger families want to have more amenities and services within walking distance of their homes". So I ask again, what amenities are these dense families on S Pearl St supposedly going to walk to? School [2-2.5mi]?, WalMart [4.5-5mi]?, maybe the Paradise Bowling Lanes [

Howard B. Owens
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The key phrase you quote that answers your question: "mixed-use."

Rick Hensel
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What we really need is to spend more money filling the pockets of these "geniuses" to tell us what we do and don't want, what we do and don't need and what is and isn't good for us. Isn't that what politicians are for? They cost us enough as it is.

Brian Graz
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Well, obviously there was a code rift in my original message that was causing it to be chopped short... let's try this one more time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The plan for Oakfield [my original hometown] is to develop S Pearl St out to Bat/Oak TLRd... and the purpose for this is... to create a "denser, mixed-use, walkable neighborhood"... WALK TO WHERE? Oh, I guess Mr Oltramari told us in the previous paragraph... "Younger families want to have more amenities and services within walking distance of their homes". So I ask again, what amenities are these dense families on S Pearl St supposedly going to walk to? School [2-2.5mi]?, WalMart [4.5-5mi]?, maybe the Paradise Bowling Lanes [.1-1mi]?, ahhh now we're making progress.

Then there's the "Hamlet" of Alabama... "grow it into a Village"? And what "walking distance" advantages are available there? Holly Farms?, Alabama Hotel?, [BTW both businesses which are most worthy of patronage, but I wouldn't build a home close enough just so I could walk there]. Hold on... I almost forgot, that building a home in the Village of Alabama would allow working members of the families there to walk or ride a bicycle to work at 1366 Technologies.

Perhaps these grand ideas of expansion don't make sense to me because I'm getting old, but FWIW most fellow Oakfield/Alabama acquaintances I have who still live there, like it the way it is... a rural, mostly farming community. That's why they live there. But the progressive planners have the obvious goal of generating more tax revenue. Why? So they can spend more tax revenue. If they only would accept the reality that the tax burden in NYS is the #1 reason why their illustrious schemes to "grow" the population [tax base], is not happening, and not likely to. In the last six years, New York State has lost more people than any other state.

If they can't grow Batavia with all the GCEDC efforts [mostly which are failed or faltering], then leave Oakfield, Alabama, Elba, Byron, Pembroke, etc alone. We kinda like it the way they are.

Howard B. Owens
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Paul Weyrich, Heritage Foundation:

"On the face of it, it is hard to see why conservatives should oppose offering traditionally-designed cities, towns and neighborhoods as alternatives to post-war “sprawl” suburbs. As conservatives, we are supposed to prefer traditional designs over modern innovations in most things (and we do). We hope to demonstrate traditional designs for the places we live, work and shop encourage traditional culture and morals. This should not surprise us. Edmund Burke told us more than two hundred years ago that traditional societies are organic wholes. If you (literally) disintegrate a society’s physical setting, as sprawl has done, you tend to disintegrate its culture as well."

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/2014/07/09/the-conservatism-of-ne...

Dave Meyer
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As someone who also grew up in Oakfield, I absolutely agree with Brian as regards the plan for Oakfield. That is laughable

As for Alabama, IF....and that's a pretty big if, the STAMP project ever gets going, the growth will take care of itself.
Can't believe we pay someone to generate this stuff

Howard B. Owens
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Well, if you don't think we should have planning documents in our community and let developers build whatever they want where ever they want, here's your chance to show up at the Legislature and voice your objections.

Frank Bartholomew
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I would like to believe that this is all good, but I live in the city of Batavia and have seen first hand what these dreamers,er,I mean planners can destroy. Batavia was a busy bustling little city,then urban renewal dropped the ball.No one has a drop of faith in these morons Howard,with good reason.

Frank Bartholomew
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Wow, I hit save once and got three.

Howard B. Owens
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I forget, which one of these guys were on a local planning staff in the late 1970s?

Ed Glow
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Your comeback sounds like something the average troll would post Howard. Maybe if you weren't so "busy" you'd have had time to comprehend the actual words in Frank's comment. Where, exactly, did Frank mention anybody's name? I re-read it a couple times and all I see is the words "dreamers" and "planners". My comprehension of Frank's comment is that he's referencing a group called "planners"... not individuals. But hey, what do I know? I'm not a self proclaimed journalist.

Being just another country bumpkin raised here in rural Genesee County (unlike yourself, Howard) I feel Frank's comment, along with Brian's & Dave's, are right on the money. Those of us that have spent our entire lives in these rural communities see the results of these "planners" and their visions of the future every time we drive down Main street in Batavia.

That concrete graveyard in the center of the city should be enough to make anybody think more than twice about letting these "Visionaries" tell us what's right for us!

Howard B. Owens
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Planners are people. Each has their own life experience and training and thoughts and ideas. To equate a planner from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago to one today makes no sense.

Urban renewal grew out of a certain set of philosophies and were foisted on communities like Batavia by outsiders. Now we have a set of planners locally who are local who aren't being steered in a particular direction by federal influence and who have ideas that are 180 degrees opposite the planners of 50 years ago and the two are being equated. That makes no sense.

Every community has planning documents. They're mandated by law. If you're going to have plans, you're going to have people who write those plans, present them to the public and provide the public a chance to provide feedback and even lobby elected officials to approve or not approve it.

The plan is the thing to argue against or for, not the people who present the plan.

So what's wrong with this plan? That it protects farmland? That it protects the rural nature of the county? That it aims to create more livable and friendly neighborhoods? Let's hear the arguments against those ideas.

If you don't like this plan, what's your plan?

Rick Hensel
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Ed Glow, you got it exactly right. These "local planners" are looking out for themselves. Looking for the spotlight and their limited time of "fame" to say :look what I did, isn't it wonderful" and to fill their pockets, I doubt their designing and "planning" for free. The local "leaders" are looking to justify themselves so they can get re-elected or reappointed. It's more about the "game" than it is about the people and who it all REALLY effects. They just love to tell us what we do and don't need and what we do and don't want as well as what is and isn't good for us. Maybe they should start paying more attention to what happened in this last national election where the people have said we've had enough of being told what we're supposed to do, like and say.

Howard B. Owens
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That's all fine, but what's your plan?

David Neth
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I think this is a great approach to the potential growth we might see from STAMP. I recently moved from Pembroke to the city of Batavia because I like having the option to walk places. I don't want to have to drive everywhere. Batavia is finally starting to see some interest for mixed-use properties, so why can't the other communities? Sounds like this plan will preserve the rural nature of the county while also encouraging denser neighborhoods. Seems like the best of both worlds to me. If you don't want to live in one of the denser communities, don't.

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