Amenia Comprehensive Plan update underway

AMENIA — An intensive review of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, last updated in 2007, began with discussion of procedure at a meeting of the town’s eight-member review committee on Tuesday, May 14. Seven committee members attended.

Committee members agreed to focus on more than cosmetic editorial changes by digging more deeply to consider town goals with a view toward sustainability. As a next step, each town board and committee will be asked to advise on goals, progress made toward those goals, and how they are working to achieve those goals.

The Comprehensive Plan functions as a policy planning document that is eventually to be adopted by vote of the Town Board.

“What do we as a community hope to be,” will be a guiding question for the review committee. Each town board and committee will be asked to report on ongoing priorities to achieve their goals.

A few residents attended the meeting and were invited to comment. Resident George Bistransin discussed agricultural easements and the importance of reducing assessments for farmers, as a means of protecting farm acreage.

“We need those farms and open land,” agreed committee member Paula Pelosi.

Seeing a conflict between local and state assessment procedures, committee member Nina Peek said that the town should look at farm-friendly policies.

“I don’t want to see any more farms lost,” Bistransin said, the committee noting a dwindling number of farms operating actively in the region.

“Who are we? Who do we want to be in four generations,” were questions posed by committee member Ken Topolsky. “How do we keep the character of the town,” he asked.

While the Comprehensive Plan cannot change the zoning laws, the committee agreed, no proposal can be approved by a town board that is contrary to the plan.

“We need to talk about farms, open space and people who need affordable housing,” Pelosi said, including attracting and supporting small business, and she added that the committee needs to talk about the commercial center.

Topolsky cautioned that the committee cannot add things that are terribly new.

Peek observed that the goal of the document is to address the needs of a diversified population.

Satisfied that a working philosophy in regard to the document had been established, the committee launched into editing the Introductory paragraphs and completed that section, scheduling its next meeting for Tuesday, June 11, to begin at 6:30 p.m.

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