2012-01-04 / Front Page / Civics and Politics
Out Like a Lamb: The Last Public Hearing on the Comprehensive Plan
for now ...
It finally looks as though the sometimes controversial, years-long work of a small group of volunteers and hundreds of supporting cast members is about to bear fruit.
On Tuesday night, Jan. 3, in the Village Hall, Mayor Seth Gallagher presided at the small and comparatively quiet public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan for the Village of Cold Spring.
The final Village Board revisions on the 100-page document were completed in December. The Comprehensive Plan involved five years of work that included a survey with 326 respondents, weekly workshops, map-making, public hearings and work sessions that involved over 120 residents of Cold Spring and amounted to more than a thousand volunteer hours. Most of the expenses for consultants’ fees and printing costs were covered by NY State grants.
Gallagher began by announcing that the Comprehensive Plan was approved by Putnam County. He then explained the final changes that the Village Board made to the Plan which included: listing the names of all of the volunteers who worked on the project, a small change of wording in the summary from “alternate energy to “alternative energy,” and a recommendation related to the introduction of piped natural gas into the village was altered by removing the phrase “possibly using a utility tax on natural gas to offset some or all costs of a new supply line” and adding the phrase “while taking into account the potential environmental and health impacts of natural gas drilling.”
There were only three citizens who spoke at the brief hearing. Mary Ellen Finger was there to reiterate her concerns about hydro-fracking and the inclusion of “exploring alternative fuel sources” in the Comprehensive Plan. She distributed a state Department of Environmental Conservation flier that detailed what was described as the damage that hydro-fracking caused in Pennsylvania where there was not proper oversight. Trustee Airinhos Serradas then asked that language be included in the document for a moratorium on hydro-fracking. The Mayor responded by saying that the Plan was amended last month and that a caveat was added to protect the environment. “No one is contemplating hydro-fracking in Cold Spring,” he insisted.
Local restaurateur and new candidate for Village Board Tom Rolston said that he thought the Plan was good and workable in its latest incarnation. Resident Tom Campanile, of the residents’ group that resides near the Foodtown Plaza, wanted to know when the Plan would take effect.
Gallagher replied, “We will vote on the Plan at our next meeting and, if adopted, it will be filed with the state. Then we will be ready to implement it.” Campanile added, “There are some great recommendations on traffic and safety issues in the Plan. It’s a great document and a good read. Thank you to all of the people who worked on it.”
However, this is only the first part of developing the Program that will impact on the future of land use, waterfront development and economic growth in the Village. Since Cold Spring lies within a NY State watershed with waterfront Hudson River property, the Special Board for the Comprehensive Plan/ Local Waterfront Revitalization Program spent most of 2011 working on the second phase of the project, the 169-page Local Waterfront Development Strategy.
Following NY State approval, the Strategy was unanimously accepted by the Village Board in November. The Special Board will now work with the document to develop it into a final Local Waterfront Development Program with the help of a new $27,000 state grant. According to Michael Armstrong, chair of the Special Board, “The full Program will discuss how the Village will adapt the State’s Coastal Resource Policies to our local situation. It will include a Harbor Management Plan, and could extend the planning for projects included in the Strategy by, for example, identifying sources of project funding.”
He predicts that this phase will be completed by the end of 2012.
Perhaps the biggest certainty of all is that there will be more workshops, public hearings and hard work going into a project this big.