10-YEAR VISION: The Town of Rockland Comprehensive Plan Committee discusses the plan at a meeting in Town Hall in Livingston Manor on Aug. 14. The public is invited to comment on the plan at a 7 p.m. meeting on Sept. 18, also in Town Hall.. Amy Hines photo

Sidewalks, parking, signage

They’re only part of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan

 By Hunter Krause | Manor Ink

Livingston Manor, NY – On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the Town of Rockland’s 13-member Planning Committee approved the final draft of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan before sending it to the Town Board for a vote.

The Town’s land use regulations are required to be in compliance with the Town’s plan, which generally is updated every ten years. Members of the public will have an opportunity to comment, initially on Wednesday, Sept. 18, before the plan is finally approved by the Town Board. The draft plan is 111 pages in length and provides an inventory of assets, proposed goals, recommendations and priorities for Rockland’s next decade.

“A successful plan is one that reflects what people want,” commented Peggy Johansson, a member of the committee. To that end, there are four main goals in the current plan:

  • Protect environmental resources and open spaces.

  • Cultivate a sense of community place.

  • Promote year-round tourism and economic diversity.

  • Preserve and enhance historic hamlets and rural character.

The planning process

The plan was informed by three visioning workshops held for Livingston Manor in 2013 and facilitated with assistance from Sullivan Renaissance. The more than 85 residents who participated in the sessions produced an idea list, which is attached to the draft Plan. Visioning workshops for Roscoe were conducted in 2007 with 50 participants. The Planning Committee developed the plan with support from two consultants hired through a $40,000 grant.

To better understand key elements of the plan, we interviewed three individuals involved with the Planning Committee: Town Supervisor and committee chairperson Rob Eggleton; seasonal resident and property owner Harvey Susswein; and resident and former Livingston Manor Free Library director Peggy Johansson.

“We have a great committee working on this,” Eggleton commented. Other important goals stated in the plan:

  • Incorporate trails, bike lanes, and walkways into the town’s transit network by identifying roadways, streets, and abandoned railroad beds for upgrading when repaving.

  • Keep signage and architecture that is aesthetically pleasing and respectful of the town’s general historic look.

  • Create additional parking spaces. Due to increased tourism, finding parking can be difficult or impossible in town. Fixing this problem could entail adding designated parking spaces to side streets, making parking arrangements with churches and banks that have specific hours of use, and repurposing vacant lots.

  • Improve parking and sidewalk networks in the Manor and in Roscoe. “Sidewalks are really important,” Peggy Johansson said. “Not only for safety, but to encourage people to come together.” She noted, however, that adding sidewalks may be a challenge. “They are expensive, so there needs to be a will to make that happen.”

“The plan addresses agriculture for the first time,” noted Rob Eggleton. He was excited about the goals that support agriculture, specifically policies that assist new and next generation farmers.

“Sullivan County ranks near the bottom of income in the state and the Town of Rockland ranks near the bottom of Sullivan County,” said Harvey Susswein. “ A number of recommendations make downtown more attractive to business and job creation. I’m very supportive of goals in the plan to improve internet access, walkways, traffic flow to encourage people to come and to stay here.”

Susswein was also keen on the proposed change to zoning in selected areas. “As a seasonal and weekend resident, the zoning recommendation is important to me. Most of the properties around me are at least five acres, and current zoning would allow all of this to be broken up into two-acre parcels.” For selected parts of town, the plan recommends that there be a minimum lot size of five acres – for example, around lakes.

Johansson expressed specific interest in the Town’s libraries. “I was encouraged that there was acknowledgement in the plan of the importance of libraries in Roscoe and Livingston Manor. So if the library decided to expand, there would be support in the plan.“

CHANGES  A planned River Walk would skirt the banks of the Willowemoc Creek behind businesses on Main Street in the Manor, far left. Sidewalks would also be added in the hamlet where there currently are none, left.  Hunter Krause photo

CHANGES A planned River Walk would skirt the banks of the Willowemoc Creek behind businesses on Main Street in the Manor, far left. Sidewalks would also be added in the hamlet where there currently are none, left. Hunter Krause photo

Related plans

There are separate plans that are well-developed for flood mitigation and for a River Walk in downtown Livingston Manor. The River Walk proposal was developed separately and would extend from the vacant lot beside Chinatown Kitchen along the Willowemoc all the way to Renaissance Park.

“Flooding mitigation is a top priority in the plan,” said Eggleton. “The town wants to do flood mitigation work prior to implementing River Walk. We have engineering and architecture plans for it and will do riverbank stabilization before the River Walk can be implemented.”

The Town has secured a $115,000 grant for the stabilization.”Engineers have been out in the stream already.

Plan implementation

Eggleton indicated the Board doesn’t yet know the costs for the plan’s implementation. “Implementation will be done by the Town Board,” Eggleton said. “We don’t have any funding yet. A lot will depend on county, state and federal money, which we have to apply for.”

There are some things that can be implemented as soon as the plan is finalized. “We will go back to our zoning laws and review all of them to ensure they align with the plan,” said Eggleton. “I expect there will be a follow up ad-hoc group to shepherd the plan’s implementation, to make sure it doesn’t end up sitting on a shelf,” Johansson commented. She also plans to participate in whatever way is appropriate.

The plan is available for viewing in the Manor and Roscoe libraries or online on the Town’s website, townofrocklandny.com. The public hearing scheduled for Sept. 18 is for the purpose of providing the Planning Committee with suggestions for possible revisions. A second hearing will be held after the Town Board formally reviews the plan.