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Village comprehensive planning effort hits midpoint

February 17, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The latest effort to update the village's comprehensive plan has reached the halfway point.

Jim Martin of the LA Group, a consulting firm hired last year by the village to help complete the plan, updated the village Board of Trustees Monday on the status of the project.

"This is halftime, so to speak," Martin said. "I thought it would be good to touch base with you and give you an update, so when we do get a draft proposed for adoption this hopefully won't be a shock and there won't be any surprises in there."

Article Photos

Jim Martin of the LA Group outlines the status of the village of Saranac Lake’s comprehensive planning effort to members of the village board and the audience Monday night.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

The village's current comprehensive plan, designed to guide future development and growth in the community, hasn't been updated since 1988, and a committee of village and Harrietstown residents was appointed almost five years ago to do just that. It delivered a draft plan to the village board in late 2009, but many of its recommendations, including proposed guidelines for the size of retail stores, proved controversial and were crossed out.

The town backed out of the joint plan, and village board members decided to meld the parts of the committee's plan they liked with an update to the 1988 plan. A new group of citizens and village board members - the Project Advisory Committee - was formed last year to guide the project.

Martin said the PAC is basing its work on the public comments it received during a series of workshops held last fall, along with the survey and comments that formed the basis of the 2009 plan, which he referred to as "the infamous red-lined edition."

"I really view this as a chance, through this process to bring these efforts together, bring the community together and find points of consensus," Martin said. "That's what I really want to try and get at."

Martin said the PAC is also using other village plans that have been crafted over the years, like the Community Economic Development Strategy, to formulate its goals. There's plenty to work from, he noted.

"I gotta tell you, this is the most planned community I've ever seen in my life," Martin said. "There's so many documents. The CEDS. There's several different plans that were not adopted. There's the actual adopted plan. ... It gives one the sense that it's time now to bring this stuff together, get it under one document and get on with actions and implementation."

The committee is now in the "goals development" stage. It's reviewed all the comments and categorized them into 11 different topics like housing, transportation, recreation and the arts, and community and economic development. Based on the frequency and importance of that input, the committee will translate the feedback into goals and actions, Martin said.

"The committee really wants to have this as a useful document for the village going forward, particularly in the next one, three and five years," he said.

A draft plan should be ready for the board to review sometime in May, Martin said.

Once the plan is adopted, the committee will begin work on updating the village land-use code so it follows the comprehensive plan. Martin said he expects that work to occur through the summer and fall.



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