Livable Communities and Land Use Goal 2: create and update comprehensive plans as a means to improve sustainable practices
There are opportunities for improving local planning efforts and supporting the increase of comprehensive plans across the region. While a number of communities have outdated plans or have yet to engage in a comprehensive planning effort, there are a number of communities which have undertaken this work. There are local models which are specific to the small city or rural nature of the region which can be utilized. Support for planning efforts is increasing as constituents begin to see the collective impact of the lack land use planning. Groups interested in supporting agricultural interests and those interested in improving multi-modal transportation choices such as walking and bicycling lead the process in some locations. In addition, severe weather-related events such as Hurricane Irene and the low snow winter of 2011 are raising awareness of climate-related impacts.
Barriers to progress vary across the region. In many locations local government lacks the political interest or will to develop comprehensive plans. Within some communities some businesses and residents believe that local zoning plans, let alone plans that look to implement new sustainability practices, could limit commercial and residential growth.
There is a rich resource in the public and private educational institutions in the region which could be active participants in this process. They could fill data gaps, and provide technical support if engaged. Sharing of success stories and local best practices of completed plans will help temper local concerns and help move planning forward.
Within the Adirondack Park some residents are under the impression that the State has provided comprehensive plans through the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). While state-wide planning is in part managed by the APA, many development and land use issues are not overseen by the APA, leaving no local oversight of critical community issues. Local jurisdictions in some cases lack the financial resources, staff availability and/or technical knowledge to undertake these efforts. In the North Country, two counties (Hamilton and Franklin) lack a county level planning office. Daily heavily workloads require staff to address immediate needs before considering longer term efforts.
North Country Region Sustainability Plan