There seems to be a pretty good chance that the Gardiner Town Board could vote soon on the long-awaited update to its Comprehensive Plan following a 90-minute Zoom session on Jan. 28.
Although the board decided it wouldn’t take a vote on the draft plan written by consultant David Church due to the absence of vacationing Supervisor Marybeth Majestic on Tuesday, there was a feeling by a majority of the remaining board members that the document was nearing completion.
Based on interviews with three of the Board members following the session, it appears that the vote won’t happen until March, though.
“I think we are very close and we want to get it done ASAP,” board member Laura Walls said. “Yes, we made some progress but not to the extent I think we all wished for. For me, the group Zoom makes it challenging to have discussion when necessary.”
Though some minor revisions were made to the document during the Zoom session, board member Franco Carucci agreed there was still work to be done.
“I do believe that we made some excellent progress,” Carucci said. “We were able to go through the last draft of Chapter 3 (Goals and Recommendations) and come to a consensus of what to keep, what to remove, and what to change. We still have several topics to finalize, including the other chapters of the plan. I’m hoping that we can hold a vote in March.”
Carucci said he felt the most productive work done during the session had to do with the section on the town’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). The NRI describes the Town of Gardiner’s fresh water, parks, natural habitats and scenic spaces that are essential to ensure continued prosperity, quality of life and responsible growth for the town.
“I think the most important update was regarding the NRI and its place in the Planning Board permitting process,” he said. “The NRI is an incredible new asset for the Town and as such, it should be fully implemented as part of the permitting process. How that happens will need much more discussion and is something that will happen outside of the Comp Plan process.”
Gardiner is updating its Comprehensive Plan for the first time since 2004. The updated plan will still need to be referred to the Ulster County Planning Board, which would have 30 days to comment.
Though he agrees updating the Comprehensive Plan has significant value to the town, Deputy Supervisor Warren Wiegand said he feels it doesn’t rank No. 1 in importance of things that Town Board members work on.
“I think this (Comprehensive Plan) is very important on a long-term basis, but not very important on a short-term basis,” he said. “I define short-term in this particular context as over the next year. When we get into things like budgets those are much more important in the short term for the town.”
Wiegand said town residents are more concerned about their jobs and schools, for instance.
“I don’t think this is very important to the vast majority of people,” he said. “But among the people who are planners and thinkers and strategy people, this is very important. That’s why we got so much public input.”