Committee wants public’s views on Westerlo’s future

101-year-old farm

Enterprise file photo — Melissa Hale-Spencer

This 101-year-old farm, photographed last year, is owned by Robert Snyder, an octogenarian who served on Westerlo’s town board for nearly 50 years. 

WESTERLO — Westerlo’s Comprehensive Plan Committee is now six months into its attempt to develop a comprehensive land-use plan for the town and has met once with the public so far to identify key concerns that the plan will address.

“We’re trying to redo the whole process because the original plan wasn’t extensive enough,” David Lendrum, the Comprehensive Plan Committee Chairman, told The Enterprise in December. The original plan was adopted six years ago but never codified into zoning law.

A public workshop was held on Jan. 15 where Westerlo residents were split into four groups that focused on these topics: agriculture, town development, environment, and planning and zoning.

“We have nine committee members,” Lendrum said in December, “so we’ll have two members at each table with a level of expertise about that topic.”

Last fall, when the town board named the nine committee members, it also chose Chuck Voss of Barton and Loguidice from among three candidates as a consultant to guide the process. Westerlo secured a $25,000 state grant to help pay for consultation. Voss did not respond to a call from The Enterprise.

Lendrum could not share a committee response to questions about the outcome of the public workshop with The Enterprise because, he said, all committee responses need to be approved by a vote. The committee will vote on a response in March. 

The point of the workshop, Lendrum told The Enterprise in December, was to help develop a survey that would go out to town residents. According to a timeline established by the committee in November, a survey will be established in mid-February and the results will be compiled by the end of May. 

That timeline predicts the comprehensive plan will be completed and ready for town approval by March of 2021.

Also in November, the committee drafted a list of 12 objectives to be fulfilled by the comprehensive plan, as follows:

  • Promote the health, safety, and welfare of the community;
  • Preserve and maintain the character and beauty of the rural landscape of Westerlo;
  • Protect and promote agricultural operations and farmlands within the town of Westerlo, pursuant to Albany County “Right to Farm Law”;
  • Protect and preserve existing open space and forested lands; 
  • Provide for orderly and sustainable growth on a suitable scale conducive to local road, utilities, waste and water systems, and infrastructure conditions;
  • Adequately and sufficiently protect neighboring land uses from potentially objectionable aspects of new development through the use of site plan review and special-use permitting processes;
  • Promote continued recreational opportunities;
  • Protect and preserve existing water resources;
  • Control the location, size, and scope of new development through the use of zoning tools such as incentive zoning, floating zones, and conservation easements;
  • Improve and expand municipal infrastructures to support new development and encourage state of the art telecommunications infrastructure to spark business development and technology growth;
  • Promote commercial expansion, niche retail, and specialty farming, along with small technology companies, which will flourish with enhanced telecommunications infrastructure; and
  • Address the siting and planning of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.

 

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