By Kathleen Kellogg
The Ellicottville Town Planning Board has drafted a resolution recommending the Town Board consider some suggested changes in the town’s Comprehensive Plan, last updated in May 2012.
Town Planner Gary Palumbo, meeting with members of the Planning Board Monday night, reviewed a list of potential changes, additions or deletions that he has gathered over several years. These are meant to accommodate current conditions of higher density, land use changes and to prepare for anticipated future development.
Results of the Ellicottville Community Smart Growth Survey and updates to community facilities will be added, but the focus of much of the discussion was on sidewalks, trails, crosswalks and parking, under the Chapter 6 Transportation heading, and the future land uses of Chapter 8.
The Board acknowledged parts of the Comprehensive Plan are outdated. For example, there have been infrastructure improvements in recent years and, while the plan called for pedestrian walkways, now both ski areas can be reached by sidewalks. Also, the area around the intersection of Routes 242 and 219 is no longer occupied by industrial uses, but is now marked by an increase in commercial and residential uses. And while there are recreational accommodations for cyclists, public roads do not have bike lanes for cyclists to reach the destination.
Sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage, trail connections and other pedestrian accommodations are desired, as are a trail or sidewalks to the Ellicottville Central School, south of the village on Route 219, and to the Ellicottville Library, on Mechanic Street north of the village center.
“I would love to see a parking lot outside the city,” said Palumbo, in response to a comment about the likelihood of a large park and ride facility or a parking ramp ever being built in the area to relieve some of the intermittent traffic congestion accompanying the large events.
The Board agreed infrastructure upgrades, such as a bridge being planned on Route 219, should allow for immediate or future walking and biking lanes, and agreed that the possibility of combining bicycling or wheeled travel with sidewalks should be explored for some neighborhoods.
Palumbo suggested the Town Board clarify density vs. yield to determine usable open space, and he said adjustments should be made to the Future Land Use section of the plan, with one “key change” to allow more land uses in the 100-foot wide Conservation District buffer area. Also, restrictions in the Ag District zone for a five-acre site and 100 foot setbacks could be reduced and the High-Density district could promote more sidewalks and trails.
He pointed to areas that are already found in Chapter 8 but are worthy of updating. He listed these as new signage technology, new designs in utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as solar energy or wind farm development, and affordable housing in low-density areas.
Palumbo recommended deleting that section on horizontal hydrofracking, because the state currently does not issue permits, and a section on Planned Use Developments because it is “not necessary.” But, he said, he would ask the town to add banquet facilities and other accommodations to support the higher density HD District.
The Board voted in unison to approve an outline of the resolution, which will be redrafted by Palumbo and signed by Board Chairman Margaret Signore before it is handed to the Town Board for further review.
In other business, the Ellicottville Town Board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. May 16 at the Town Hall on the Planning Board’s proposed sign amendments, sent by the Planning Board to the Town Board for action in late March.