January 21, 2022

C’ville push: Redevelopment

Town’s comprehensive draft plan emphasizes commerical growth

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A car drives past the site of a future Jiffy Lube along Route 13 in Cortlandville on Monday. Building new commercial developments on existing sites is one of the areas to be considered in the updated comprehensive plan, which will be the topic of a public hearing June 16.

Rather than push new developments to never-developed green spaces, Cortlandville’s comprehensive plan would encourage redeveloping sites.

Instead of an aging row of empty retail spaces on Route 13 in South Cortland, the town hopes to push developers to either re-occupy those buildings, or redevelop the old site.

The Cortlandville Town Board will have a public hearing at its June 16 meeting to allow the public to comment on the document, Supervisor Tom Williams said Monday.

Representatives of CHA Consulting, Inc. — the firm the town hired to assist on the plan — will be present to answer questions.

Following that, the town will revise the plan to address pertinent comments, Williams said.

“We’d like to get it done, get it off the table, get in place,” Williams said.

To learn more
To view the 2020 C’ville comprehensive plan draft, visit: tinyurl.com/9j5kkcn4

Compared to the existing plan — last updated in 1978 — the new plan drafted last year places greater focus on commercial development, Williams said.

In 1978, much of what is now the town’s largest commercial district, from Route 222 to the town line, remained farm fields.

Since then, a mall has opened, and largely closed, and other retail plazas have been developed.

Additionally, the 1978 plan does not take into consideration solar or other renewable energy projects.

That will play into a key part of the new plan; the plan requires an update of its 2018 solar law.

Williams said the decision to amend the law followed residents’ opposition to two proposed side-by-side five-megawatt solar projects on 75 acres on Bell Crest Drive.

The law, he said, didn’t account for construction of solar projects in an agricultural zone, which is where the two projects are proposed.

The question in addressing the law is how to best suit both the people who want to develop land for solar projects and those who don’t want solar projects visible from their backyards, Williams said.

A committee, including the town attorney, town planning and coding officer and town residents, will work on that.

The new plan also would set the guideline to create a new zone, Conservation Residential. The zone would require clustering to preserve agricultural lands and open space, while requiring designs to conform to a rural character.

“If we do our job right, we can weave that piece of fabric together to make it all work,” Williams said.

The new plan also focuses on redeveloping vacant commercial spaces, Williams said.

He gave the example of the Lowe’s home improvement center on Route 13, how it was originally a Walmart but when the Walmart moved further west on Route 13, the Lowe’s rebuilt on the old Walmart site.

Further, the new plan sets a goal for the town to adopt a Complete Streets policy that would expand accessibility for people without a vehicle — walkways, bike paths and expanded public transportation.

The 1978 plan does not focus on transportation for residents beyond cars.

Williams said he hopes to have the plan voted on and adopted within a month following the June 16 public hearing. From there, a committee would be created to determine how to change zoning to accomplish the plan’s goals, which Williams said he hopes can be finished by October or the end of this year.

“Let’s get it done,” he said.