Berne Planning Board invites residents to share views on land use

BERNE — Berne Planning Board Chairman Joe Martin says that Berne has a unique character, defined by the fact that it’s a highly rural town close enough to the state capital that there are a plethora of skilled and educated residents whose abilities are on tap for the town. 

“So how can we utilize all the different talents?” he said to The Enterprise this week. 

He and the rest of the planning board are working toward an answer through a series of land-use workshops. One was held last month, and another will take place on June 16 at 7 p.m at the old Foxenkill Grange Hall, now the community and senior center. Any and all Berne residents, Martin said, are encouraged to attend and share their vision for the town and brainstorm ways to achieve it. 

“So far we have had great input with residents,” he said. “Primarily the goal I would say overall is to update current zoning to fit the future needs of the community. We have had a handful of community members come forward with ideas to expand or start small businesses which is great! So encouraging them to take the next step and help in any way we can is a goal.”

He said that one clear priority so far is retaining Berne’s agricultural elements while being open to certain kinds of development. That stance is central not just to Berne but all of the Hilltowns, where many praise the rolling landscape and country lifestyle, but bemoan the distance from their home to any meaningful service, from groceries to gas to mental health care, to name but a few. 

That shared perspective is encased in each town’s comprehensive plan — a document that lays out goals for each community and guidelines for the towns’ regulatory and planning authorities. Berne’s most recent comprehensive plan was adopted in 2017, but the work on it began in 2009, meaning some of the information within it is approaching the 15-year expiration date.

The land-use workshops have the appearance of being part of the process of developing a brand new comprehensive plan, but Martin says that’s not the goal, though the information from residents may result in some tweaks. 

“As far as the comprehensive plan [goes], I see it being well-written and within what the community wants, but possibly might need some minor adjustments along with the schedule of usage …,” Martin said. “As a community we certainly wouldn’t want to sit idle and not at least consider revisions with our plans, living in a rapidly changing world. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

Martin also said that he hopes to get the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school district involved at some point, as it's a “driving force” in the town. 

In the meantime, he hopes residents will make use of future meetings, and said that if they have input but are unable to attend in person, they can email him at .


More Hilltowns News

  • Steep drop-offs on either side of where Gifford Hollow Road meets Switzkill Road in Berne threatens the traveling public, Berne resident and former New York State Department of Transportation employee Joel Willsey warned the town in a letter, since no guardrails or signs are in place to prevent someone from driving in. 

  • Patrick Corbett is accused of stealing “an ATV, a keyboard, night vision binoculars, hunting equipment with apparel, two safes that contained a total of 6 guns, over 3,000 rounds of ammunition, and several other items,” according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. 

  • Nearly a month after Election Night, the Rensselaerville justice race votes have been finalized, securing incumbent Gregory Bischoff as the winner by a margin of just nine votes over his opponent, Republican Richard Tollner. 

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