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General Municipal Law of New York State
Article 12B
Sections 239-l and 239-m
Referral Number 2002007

Municipality Shandaken
Referring Agency Local Governing Body
Type of Referral Comprehensive Plan
Name of Applicant Town of Shandaken
Name of Project Town of Shandaken Comprehensive Plan
Description Proposed new Comprehensive Plan

UCPB Decision No County Impact - Non-binding Comments
See Attachments
Referral Officer Dennis Doyle, Representing the Ulster County Planning Board

Date Received 12/19/2001
Date Reviewed 03/06/2002
Form Date 03/07/2002
Status Reviewed

Laurilyn Frasier
Town Clerk
P.O. Box 134
Shandaken, N.Y. 12480

Referral No: 2002-007
Date Reviewed: 03/06/02


Re: Town of Shandaken - Comprehensive Plan

The Ulster County Planning Board has reviewed the Town of Shandaken's application and offers the following:


The Ulster County Planning Board would like to congratulate Shandaken for recognizing the need to prepare a comprehensive plan. To date, the community has relied solely on its land use regulations to guide development. These have been amended, often times in a haphazard fashion, to accommodate particular land use proposals. The comprehensive planning process is designed to provide a broader basis on which to make these types of land use decisions. The process can and, we believe, should provide insight and vision beyond the traditional land use discussion. Some of this is often seen in plans that speak to economic development, affordable housing, or public facility needs. Only public facility needs are absent in the Shandaken Plan. This plan, however, is not without its shortcomings; perhaps the most glaring is the obvious reflection that the limited budget has had on the level of detail. The following comments should be viewed by all those who participated in the preparation of the plan as the Ulster County Planning Board's desire to move the process forward and recognition of the effort it took to get this far. The Board has directed staff to extend an invitation to meet with boards or committees of the community to discuss these comments as well as provide additional input to aid in the adoption of any final document.

Recommendation - Non-binding Comments

  1. Within the broad goals and guidelines contained within the plan, we can find no conflict with those of the Ulster County Land Use Plan. The Plan articulates a general outline that can, and should, provide a basis to bring further details and move defined objectives into focus. Within this broad framework, we see several critical issues that should be added.

    • The major event section (pg. 6-8) touches on the Forest Preserve and New York City Watershed; yet within the document there is a lack of discussion on the regional nature of many issues that confront the Town and the overarching concerns expressed by County, State, and Federal agencies as well as regional and national environmental and economic development organizations. A discussion of these issues and guidelines for community response could begin an era of better understanding for all parties.

    • While infrastructure and community facilities heading is in the plan, it deals mainly with water and sewer whereas other issues are also important. Shandaken, with its large geographic extent anchored in the Catskills, faces significant challenges in providing governmental services. Its roads and bridges are under constant assault, areas to locate community facilities are limited, and emergency services are critical but difficult to provide. A discussion of these challenges and guidelines/objectives in dealing with them could provide a basis for plan review, road design, repair and acquisition, as well as capital facility planning.

    • Maps and pictures - the Plan would benefit greatly from inclusion of additional maps and graphics. Suggestions include:

      • Maps - hamlets (the eleven mentioned as well as those areas designated for NYC Watershed purposes)
        • Location of the town in the region
        • Existing zoning map
        • Major travel corridors
      • Charts
        • Land acreage by commercial open space, etc.
        • Tax data over time
        • Income and housing
      • Graphics
        • Important mountain tops/vistas
        • Hamlet preservation/streetscape
        • Rt. 28 Corridor field/forest/hamlet/river
      • Pictures
        • Hamlets vibrant deteriorated (CCCD work)
        • Vistas
        • Public services
        • Water quality

  2. The following are comments on specific sections of the report.

    • (pg. 1) Previous Reports - Absent from this list is the Ulster County Land Use Plan, multiple DEC unit management plans, State Recreation Plan, and Scenic Roads Analysis. The Plan should take a more comprehensive look at reports available for the community and at least list them.

    • (pg. 10) Land Use Pattern - In addition to the historic development pattern, a more recent pattern has emerged. Influenced by factors including environmental legislation, flood plains, improved transportation, more active recreational pursuits, etc. These have contributed in some way to the growth in second homeownership and the development of residential use away from existing centers. In some instances, the result may be in conflict with the development on the sides and tops of mountains.

    • (pg. 11) Infrastructure - should include highways as a critical component.

    • (pg. 11) Natural Features Limitations - This section is critical and although a map is provided much could be said to give a feel as to the breadth and extent of these limitations, the impact both positive and negative on the community.

    • (pg. 12) Hamlet Delineation - This is not precisely Shandaken today and would be improved by a discussion of the existing hamlets and their' threats, opportunities, etc.

    • (pg. 14) Environment - The preview to the Policies section states that "the future of Shandaken is tied to its unique natural resources." It then goes on to state what those resources are. That said, we would expect to see within the environmental goal section a singular commitment to preserving and building on these resources as a vision of the community's future. Yet the section offers no bold statements that reflect the introduction that the future of the town is at stake. We can think of several improvements.

      • Goal Statements on:
        • cooperation and working relationships with involved state and federal agencies and organizations
        • floodplains
        • environmental education and awareness programs

      • Guideline Statements on:
        • Those items mentioned above and on the goals already in the plan, especially the statement related to a coherent and sustainable approach to development (1b)
        • Conservation easements
        • Special protection for regional water quality and mountaintops
        • Rewording of statement relative to Rt. 28 that appears to place all high intensity uses along it to a more general statement that recognizes few other local or county roads in Shandaken have a capacity problem. Recognition of the critical nature of roads and bridges in the one-way in and out mountain valleys.
        • Road and driveway construction especially as it relates to drainage and maintenance

      • Action Statements
        • Action statements consistent with all of the guidelines in this section Recreational river designation for the Esopus
        • Designation of critical environmental areas
        • Review land use patterns and uses in zoning statute relative to the goal and guideline statements
        • The establishment of a Conservation Advisory Council

      In short, the environmental section should provide a clear indication of the community's respect for the environment, its understanding of the competing interests associated with the actions that effect it, and a commitment to understand that participants in the debate should not be relegated to the us and them categories that have been so often apparent in the Town.

    • (pg. 17) Economy - As it stands, this section is good but again lacks the depth that should be seen in such a critical piece of the Comprehensive Plan. In some ways the section does not seem reflective of planning discussion that precedes it and the action statements seem few given the concern of the issue. Again, we offer some additions:

      • Goal statements on:
        • Second homes as an economic development tool
        • Utilize natural resources as economic development tool (water supply, timber, etc.) and seek to establish value added industries related to the natural resource base within the community
        • Encourage the establishment of cottage industries
        • Encourage the expansion of home based businesses as a means to generate income for full time residents
        • Promote infrastructure support for commercial and industrial uses including water, sewer, broadband Internet access, etc.
        • Work with all appropriate agencies to establish links to financing for local businesses

      • Guideline statements on:
        • Items mentioned above
        • Review of land use and open space areas to develop a better understanding of growth areas
        • Work toward a solution to the installation of sewers in Phoenicia
        • The town acting as sponsor for economic development grants
        • Hamlet revitalization programs
        • Interface with potential finance partners including the SHARP, Watershed Development Corporation, UCDC, banks, etc.

      • Action Statements on:
        • Grants and revolving loan funds
        • Educational programs
        • Water and sewer and other infrastructure needs as important and consistent with those mentioned under the infrastructure needs
        • Identification of potential development parcels

    • (pg. 18) Development Pattern - This entire section is good but we would suggest a change in how it is presented. One way to define the development pattern within the community is to look at the separation of landforms and then write to a development pattern envisioned for the landform. We think that this would give a clearer picture to those involved as to how the pattern emerged. For all of these, it should be clear from the Plan what intensity of use expected at each level. In addition to this, we would suggest that the plan could speak to overall issues regarding patterns in the form of site specific guidelines. The following is a suggested landform breakdown:

      • Esopus Valley - Rt. 28 Corridor (most of this is in the plan now) -
        • Existing development, hamlets, gateways, vacant land, public lands, recreation lands
        • Rt. 28 corridor and other transportation issues
        • Floodplain and stream corridors
        • Important economic issues such as tourism, local and regional service needs, overnight accommodations, etc.
        • Discussion of development pattern, intensity and related uses that would be consistent with limitations and economic development goals

      • Mountain valleys - Rt. 42, Woodland Valley, etc
        • Existing development, vacant land, public lands, recreation lands
        • Access issues - roads, emergency services, etc.
        • Access to state lands
        • Important economic issues such as campgrounds and other overnight accommodations and tourist attractions. access to natural resources such as water supply and timber
        • Narrow nature with significant floodplain issues
        • Discussion of development pattern, intensity and related uses that would be consistent with limitations and economic development goals

      • Mountain sides
        • Existing development, vacant land, public lands, recreation lands
        • Access issues - roads, emergency services, etc.
        • Visibility
        • Erosion factors
        • Water supply
        • Important economic issues such as tourist facilities, second home development, and timber harvesting
        • Discussion of development pattern, intensity and related uses that would be consistent with limitations and economic development goals

      • Mountain tops
        • Existing development, vacant land, public lands, recreation lands
        • Access issues - roads, emergency services, etc. - Visibility
        • Water supply
        • Important economic issues such as tourist facilities, overnight accommodations, second home development, and timber harvesting
        • Discussion of development pattern, intensity and related uses that would be consistent with limitations and economic development goals

    • (pg.24) Infrastructure and Community Facilities - The content of this section is excellent and we would suggest only a few additions or changes.

      • The goal section should more clearly highlight the need for community facilities as it relates to the day-to-day needs of the Town. This could include highway department, town offices, libraries, etc. This could be more broadly related to the need for the community to do capital budgeting or difficulties it experiences such as maintaining bridges and highways or waterways and streams.

      • Also absent are discussions on other transportation related needs such as pedestrian access in hamlets or transit access for seniors and others.

The Ulster County Planning Board appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Comprehensive Planning effort. As we stated in our introduction, the Plan provides a good base to build on. We would ask that you seek to make the Plan a more concrete document that can accurately lead the community forward.

Reviewing Officer
Dennis Doyle

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