Comprehensive Plan: the key to the future
By TOM KANE
Nobody likes to be told what to do. And most people like to have control of their own destiny. When it comes down to town matters, town officials usually have that same desire. In fact, that ability of towns to control their own destiny has been codified in a state regulation called home rule.
Home rule is a legal creation in both New York and Pennsylvania that states that all land use regulationszoning, water management, sewer controls, etc.that affect town life solely lay in the hands of local governments. Neither the state nor the county can dictate particular regulations in land use practices. The state and countys role is merely advisory.
That puts a lot of power in the hands of a few town officials, and it brings with it the burden of obligation. The French have an expression, noblesse oblige, which means that being a nobleman brings with it a serious and grave responsibility. Without implying that our official have nobility status, the duty of managing change and growth in our towns falls squarely on the shoulders of town officials.
Which brings me to the discussion of an important town regulationperhaps the most importantwhere obligation should be clearly functioning: the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is basically a blueprint for a towns future. It is the policy foundation upon which communities are built.
The comprehensive plan is defined by New York State as the materials, written and/or graphic, including but not limited to maps, charts, studies, resolutions, reports and other descriptive material that identify the goals, objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards, devices and instruments for the immediate and long-range protection, enhancement, growth and development of a locality. The same definition essentially applies to Pennsylvania.
On Friday April 1, the Sullivan County Commissioner of Planning and Community Development William Pammer, and the Pike County Director of Planning Michael Mrozinski will host a meeting on the comprehensive plan for all the officials of river towns on both sides of the Delaware River.
The planners will give an overview of the comprehensive plan, the role it plays in a towns development and will enlist feedback from officials on how the county governments may assist them in the revival or the creation of a comprehensive plan for their towns. The meeting, which will be held at 9:00 a.m. in the Tusten Town Hall on Bridge Street, is open to interested residents.
Residents of the river valley have told the visioning committee that they want to preserve the quality of life that we now enjoy. With the coming of casinos, that quality of life could be drastically altered. Surely, the western part of the county will be affected by casinos as much as the eastern part where casinos will be located. Make no mistake about it. We shall all be affected. Developers with deep pockets are eyeing more and more of our river townsCochecton, Delaware, Fremont, Lumberland and Damascus.
Town officials must take upon themselves the responsibility of having a strong vision in the face of sudden growth and development and doing all they can to preserve the river valley. And we must take the responsibility to help to guide them. Our quality of life is in all of our hands.
[Tom Kane is a writer for The River Reporter. He is also the coordinator for the Visioning Committee of the Upper Delaware River Corridor.]
leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries. We here today face such a tide, and we need not be swept away by it if we seize the tools at hand to steer our way into the future.
This editorial is reprinted from The River Reporter, an award-winning news source
for the Upper Delaware.