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2018-10-10 / Front Page

Collaborative Comprehensive Planning

Delaware County Seeks Public’s Input in Guiding County Plan
By Lillian Browne


Kent Manuel and Kristin Schneider, staff at the Delaware County Planning Department, held a public informational workshop session in Hamden on Oct. 3 to brainstorm ideas for compiling Delaware County’s first comprehensive plan. 
Lillian Browne/The Reporter Kent Manuel and Kristin Schneider, staff at the Delaware County Planning Department, held a public informational workshop session in Hamden on Oct. 3 to brainstorm ideas for compiling Delaware County’s first comprehensive plan. Lillian Browne/The Reporter HAMDEN - The Delaware County Planning Department conducted a series of public outreach sessions over the last two months to solicit the public’s help in guiding the county’s first comprehensive plan.

A comprehensive plan, or master or land-use plan, is designed to guide future actions of a community. It provides a vision for the future, with long range goals and objectives for activities that affect local government.

Planners, under the direction of committee members, held workshops - public listening or information gathering sessions - in different communities throughout Delaware County to gain a sense of how residents view the county, and, to help guide a county plan.


Approximately 15 people attended the final information gathering session hosted by the Delaware County Planning Department, as phase one of data collection for the county’s first comprehensive plan. 
Lillian Browne/The Reporter Approximately 15 people attended the final information gathering session hosted by the Delaware County Planning Department, as phase one of data collection for the county’s first comprehensive plan. Lillian Browne/The Reporter Fifteen residents attended the final session, held at the Hamden Town Hall on Oct. 3, where county planners gathered information to be compiled into a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Participants shared their views of the county’s strengths, which included: the diversity among residents; the quality of life; the county’s identity as a tourist destination, well-maintained county roads and bridges; educational resources such as BOCES campuses and SUNY Delhi; the Delaware County Fair; the county’s solid waste management facility; the unique resource of the Cannonsville and Pepacton reservoirs; the low costs of living; flood mitigation expertise; diversification of agricultural; the availability of natural gas in parts of the county; high-speed internet service in parts of the county; plentiful jobs; and a thriving lumber and bluestone industry, among others.

In addition to opportunities, strengths, weakness and threats as perceived by members of the public were considered at the information-gathering session.Lillian Browne/The Reporter In addition to opportunities, strengths, weakness and threats as perceived by members of the public were considered at the information-gathering session.Lillian Browne/The Reporter Residents were candid about the county’s weaknesses and the many things it is lacking, including: public transportation, a qualified workforce, young families, developable land, childcare, affordable housing, access to health care, high-speed internet service and cell phone service throughout the county, volunteers for fire department and emergency services, and a uniformity in rules, regulations and codes from one town to another.

Also seen as a weakness are the multiple layers of government at the village, town and county levels that provide inefficient and cost-heavy duplicate services.

One resident pointed out that the maintenance of state roads, which provide a lifeline to the county, are poorly maintained. Another resident stated that signs posted on major thoroughfares into the county proclaim “No Maintenance” during certain hours, seasonally. “That’s how we’re welcoming people into the county?” he asked rhetorically.

The comment led to discussion about the county’s refusal to plow or maintain certain county roads during the winter months and the burden it places employees and on the county’s manufacturing companies that operate 24-hour shifts, in addition to hospitals and the county jail. Volunteer firefighters and emergency services crews are at risk traveling on non-maintained county roads during the winter months as well, another resident pointed out.

Identified as a weakness and a threat, was the opioid epidemic, which has affected every aspect of community life including public safety, the economy and family life.

Distribution and ease of access to public assistance in Delaware County, was, likewise, seen as a weakness and a threat.

The county’s declining and aging population were also identified as both a threat and a weakness.

Many opportunities exist for the county with the expansion of broadband. Not only will it increase educational opportunities but it will also provide more access to healthcare with telemedicine, among other things.

The construction of the new emergency services communication towers throughout the county was seen as an opportunity for cellular service providers to rent space on the towers to provide broader cellphone coverage and create an additional source of revenue for the county.

Seen as a threat, opportunity, strength and weakness was the presence of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which operates and maintains the Cannonsville and Pepacton reservoirs, police the watershed and have purchased thousands of acres of land throughout Delaware County through its land acquisition program with a goal of protecting water quality.

While participants praised the DEP for contributing to pristine environmental conditions in the county, which have helped to poise the county as a major tourist destination, they also acknowledged the hardship caused to economy and community by the removal of developable land from the tax rolls.

The next step in the comprehensive planning process is for a survey to be circulated to residents. The survey will likely be conducted digitally via email and regular mail.

Planners are optimistic that a draft version of the county’s comprehensive plan will be completed by the end of 2019.

For more information or to participate in the planning process by completing a survey contact Delaware County Planning Department by calling 607-832-5444.

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