Taking stock of the visioning process
By TOM KANE
This is a good time to deliver a status report on past activities of the Visioning Committee of the Upper Delaware River Corridor and take a quick glimpse into the future.
Over the past year, the committee held 16 meetings in communities on both sides of the river in Sullivan, Wayne and Pike Counties to find out what was on residents minds as the area braces for rapid growth..
The meetings were very well attended. Well over 600 people shared their opinions and priorities in this consensus building process.
The first set of meetings was held in the morning for municipal officials and interested residents.
After these five meetings, people suggested that we hold meetings in the evening so folks who work can have input into the visioning process.
We then held a round of five evening meetings to get input from citizens on what they felt was important for their individual towns. While people ate potluck suppers, and generally had a good time, we gathered goals and concerns into lists.
Then, we held another round of meetings in the same townswe added the Town of Hancock in New York which was not in the first roundand, taking the list generated by the first round, prioritized what was most important to them in their towns.
The following are the issues that got the most votes:
Highest vote was a tie with 100 votes prioritizing the issues first, protect water quality, land and air quality and second, conserve open space and protect farmland. Third highest with 89 votes was maintain private property rights. Fourth with 69 votes was encourage family-sustaining jobs. Fifth with 63 votes was preserve our rural character. Sixth, a tie with 53 votes was one, support businesses consistent with our rural character and second, educate local officials and citizens on good planning.
Moving to a local level
Four small visioning groups were formed in some of the towns to continue the process there. The groups meeting on a monthly schedule.
Conservation subdivision could be a tool
The committee held a workshop on May 27 on a new method of handling development called conservation subdivisions that was attended by realtors, developers, planners, architects, engineers and municipal officials. A hallmark of this method is that every new development must put aside at least 50 percent of the development to open space that homeowners hold in common. Communities are using this method to preserve their open space while facilitating development.
Homeowners like it because their homes are surrounded with open space and developers like it because it saves development costs and is highly saleable.
Damascus Township is in the process of adopting this method and the Town of Cochecton town board and planning board will come together soon to study this method.
The visioning committee will continue its efforts to bring people together so that they can be a part of a process that will both encourage growth and at the same time preserve our quality of life.
We will have a presence at Riverfest on July 25, are planning a major forum in the fall, a program on local government, a workshop on stormwater management, efforts to encourage regional planning and a plan to spread the idea of conservation subdivisions.
If you wish to learn more about the committee, call 845/252-7414 or visit upperdelaware.com.
[Tom Kane is a reporter for The River Reporter and the coordinator of the visioning committee.]