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County Encourages Community Participation in Comprehensive Planning Process

by Jeff Cole

 

In 1978, Cattaraugus County adopted a comprehensive plan that was intended to guide the development of the county through the year 2000.

 

Since then, the plan has not been improved upon … that is, until now.

 

On May 31, Cattaraugus County held the first of six public forums to take place once a month for the next six months to gather public input on the planning process for a new comprehensive plan. Each forum will concentrate on a specific topic as it relates to Cattaraugus County.

 

According to www.cattco.org, “a new comprehensive planning update is needed to address the challenges of the 21st century and build upon more recent planning initiatives.” The website further states that the “goals and policies of the 1978 plan do not adequately address the changes that have occurred since its adoption.”

 

The first forum focused on economic development, and the subsequent forum topics and dates are as follows:

 

June 21 – Agriculture

 

July 12 – Environmental and Natural Resources

 

Aug. – Transportation and Infrastructure

 

Sept. 20 – Arts and Culture

 

Oct. 18 – Land Use

 

All public forums have scheduled start times of 6 p.m. The locations for the next five forums have not yet been determined. The County’s goal is to gather the input of as many citizens as possible in all these forums to aid the planning process.

 

The initial forum attracted 11 Cattaraugus County citizens, who participated in various exercises in which they listed their opinions of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in Cattaraugus County as they pertain to economic development. Steve Crowley, a member of the Ellicottville Town Board, told the Times that the exercises brought out some great ideas.

 

“It (the forum) has been productive and several new and different ideas have rose to the top,” he said.

 

James Isaacson, senior planner for Cattaraugus County, said that the purpose of the new comprehensive plan is to provide a roadmap for the future of the county.

 

“It basically envisions our future and provides a blueprint on how to achieve that future,” he said.

 

With so many other projects being undertaken since the plan’s inception, revising the plan has just recently become a priority for the county, according to Isaacson. He also said that a lot of the work that will be done will be in-house labor and that the county does not have a definitive end date on when the new plan will be finalized.

 

“It’ll probably take a year before we can see a working draft document that we can digest,” he said. “For the next six months, we’re doing public forums and then we will, in-house, begin to take all of this input and start formulating some action steps and recommendations. It’ll take some time to do that.”

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