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New York State Planning Federation Award
~ By the Town of Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi
On behalf of the Town of Cortlandt located in Northern Westchester County, New York, we were honored to receive the 2016 New York State Planning Federation Award for our new adopted Sustainable Comprehensive Master Plan. It is a prestigious award and I thank the Federation for recognizing the two year effort of our committee, which was comprised of residents, staff members, our consultant (AKRF) and various board and committee members.
Since I’ve had the honor of being Cortlandt’s Town Supervisor (1992 – Present, 25 years) we have completed three comprehensive master plans and zoning revisions to parallel the ideas and policies of these plans. Every ten years, if not before, every municipality should either revise, amend or complete a new plan. A master plan is an excellent guide and tool for all boards, councils, committees and elected officials to use in order to collectively plan for the future of a community. This approach has worked very well in our town.
- Our first comprehensive overview Master Plan (Comp) adopted in 1993 replaced a much earlier plan of 1974. This plan included 120 policies addressing a much needed town identity, since we do not have a downtown main street, more open space and recreational spaces as well as historic preservation, community appearance and managing development and growth in our large town (40 sq. miles). At that time, we did not have strong environmental laws.
From this Master Plan we established a new Cortlandt Manor zip code, a new Cortlandt Train Station built by MTA/Metro North and encouraged an expanded shopping mall to be renamed Cortlandt Town Center. We also moved into a closed elementary school for our own Cortlandt Town Hall. Previously, we had shared space with our two villages for our 200 employees. Once again, it put Cortlandt on the map and we then had a sense of place as we went forward with our planning.
- The next Comprehensive plan was adopted in 2004 once again having a committee from all sections of our community to assist us in building upon the implemented policies of the Master Plan from a decade earlier.
This plan emphasized improving technology and the use of Geographic Information Systems (G.I.S.) for mapping and infrastructure purposes. Today this system has become an intrical part of how we operate in our departments. We also wanted to assist our local businesses which led to an economic study and a local economic committee being established. Demographic analysis and the condition of our infrastructure was an important component of this Master Plan.
The plan included 154 policies to be considered and nine chapters, one being on natural resources and visual quality. We were beginning to address energy sources and alternatives, bio-diversity, as well as, doing studies on gas house emissions in order to protect our air quality and did Climate Smart evaluations. This plan added more graphics, photographs and mapping from the previous plan. For the first time, an entire comprehensive plan was posted on our town’s website for easier public access.
- Our 2016 Sustainable Comprehensive Plan was thoroughly updated by the NYSERDA grant $175,000 the Town received primarily due to Cortlandt being at the time (2014) one of only six Climate Smart Communities in New York State. It was over a two and half year period that once again a committee comprised of our planning, legal and engineering staff, a consultant (AKRF), the Town Supervisor, a Town Board member and other board and committee members, representing all aspects of our government and community. They met regularly and had measurable metrics tracked throughout the process. This plan has 205 policies and nine chapters. Sustainability concepts were woven throughout all of the chapters in this Envision Plan.
Since Cortlandt has the Hudson River as one of its borders, a Waterfront Sustainable District was featured, along with a new growth area around our New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, our Cortlandt Train Station as a hub area for future growth and our main business corridor was renamed the Cortlandt Boulevard as the fourth major area for new growth.
The ideas for future growth included residential (affordable, dwelling units for millennials and Senior Citizens and for families looking for townhouse living rather than single family homes, which make up most of our current housing stock).
Sustainable issues were the common theme. We used a town-wide survey distributed to all of our residents to assist us in developing an excellent Sustainable Envision Master plan to guide our community for the next decade. A citizen’s guide in a shorter version will be available on-line for residents, business owners and future property owners to use to help in providing the next chapter in Cortlandt’s history and future.
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you the planning and now sustainable planning that has and will go into the fabric of what makes our Town of Cortlandt a great place to live.
Supervisor Town of Cortlandt