Round Two of Public Hearing on Comprehensive Plan Set for Thursday

The first round of a public hearings on Cold Spring’s draft Comprehensive Plan filled nearly every chair last week as residents expressed their support or concerns. Round two of the hearings gets underway on Thursday, Oct. 21, and the chairpersons of the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan-Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, the panel that wrote the 89-page draft document, anticipate another good turn-out and lively exchange. The hearing session will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Cold Spring firehouse, at the corner of Main and Church Streets.
       The nine-member Special Board published its draft on Sept. 29. Efforts to produce a comprehensive plan or “master plan” for Cold Spring began in autumn 2006 and since then have included at least two dozen special forums for local residents and anyone else with a stake in Cold Spring. As part of the latest phase, the Special Board will accept written comments until the close of the Oct. 21 hearing and will review all comments submitted, which will be regarded as part of the public hearing record. 
       “The draft plan presents the goals, objectives and specific actions the Special Board recommends that the village consider, looking at a 20-year horizon,” Special Board Chairman Michael Armstrong said Oct. 18. “The actions are brief and to the point, like somebody’s `to-do’ list. But don’t be fooled: behind the 317 action items are thousands of hours of research, community comment, and Special Board debate.”

Special Plan Board listens during Oct. 14 hearing. (Photo by Mike Turton)

Anne Impellizzeri, Special Board vice-chairperson, said that the draft plan has been built on four years of public input. “What we’ve done here is distill what the community has told us they want into clear goals and actions,” she said.  “We’ve tried to present a draft plan that is balanced, realistic, pragmatic and helpful.”
       Armstrong explained that the Special Board will convene again on Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., at the Cold Spring Village Hall, 85 Main St., to discuss the plan and whether to modify it in light of both the spoken and written comments from the public hearings. He said that the board may also vote at that time on whether to recommend the draft plan to the Village Board.  Once the draft Plan has been recommended, the Village Board must hold its own public hearing and complete a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), before the plan can be adopted. The Village Board may change the plan in any way it wishes.
       Armstrong said the draft plan follows the clear legislative intent of New York State Village Law 7-722, which governs comprehensive plans. The draft covers both land use regulation and other issues, regulatory and non-regulatory, in such areas as economic development, control of property taxes, infrastructure management, ways to take advantage of the Hudson Riverfront, and maintaining village character. As an example of how the plan goes beyond land use, Armstrong cited its reference to fiscal considerations. “We could have ignored village finances completely, but that would be like planning to send your kid to college and never thinking through how you are going to pay for it,” he said.  “For us the key is implementation -— and a big part of implementation is being practical about funding.

Attendees at Oct. 14 hearing (Photo by Mike Turton)

As work winds down on the Comprehensive Plan, the Special Board intends to concentrate on the LWRP, with a long-expected state grant of $50,000 finally being made available. From the start, the Special Board has pursued the twin threads of a Comprehensive Plan and an LWRP and much of the work on the Comprehensive Plan is also applicable to the LWRP. The first phase of LWRP activity, covered by the grant, is due to be finished by Nov. 30, 2011.  The village will need another grant for the second phase of LWRP work.

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