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November 14, 2013

Town OKs draft comprehensive plan

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — WEST ONEONTA — Demographics, energy and water needs, economic development, municipal and community services and environmental safeguards are among many addressed in the town of Oneonta’s draft comprehensive plan released Wednesday night.

The document was presented to the Oneonta Town Board at a meeting in Town Hall for its consideration en route to approval.

“A plan should not be reactionary — it should be visionary,” Robert Harlem Jr., chairman of the town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, said.

Harlem said the 39-page document represented 18 month’s work by the panel, which had enthusiastic and energetic members with a range of ideas and views. Through discussions, members were able to reach consensus and agree on the draft, he said.

“It’s a very strong report,” Harlem said. The plan updates previous studies, the most recent from 1998, he said. 

The town’s other approved comprehensive plan reports date from 1973 and 1965. 

Harlem asked the board to review the report and provide feedback by next week so that the committee and town may schedule a public hearing and wrap up the plan by year’s end.

“I was very impressed by the effort and performance of people on the committee,” town board member William “Bill” Mirabito said at the meeting in Town Hall. Negativity has arisen in the town, he said, and this report shows that the community can come together.

The town in recent years has faced some hotly debated issues, including drilling for natural gas, and pressure from the city of Oneonta to merge.

Supervisor Robert Wood thanked the committee for its work.

Harlem said issues before the town include a growing population of residents 65 and older; questions about rezoning; rebuilding the tax base; and economic development, including finding employment opportunities.

Zogby Analytics survey results are included and discussed in the draft plan.

The committee was divided into four subcommittees — planning, zoning and economic development; infrastructure, roads, water and sewer; community services, public safety and library; and parks and environmental concerns. The panels studied topics, consulted local resources and held public meetings