In what could be an olive branch to warring factions in New Paltz, the Town Board and Village Board agreed to develop a joint master plan of the entire community.
Right now, the Village of New Paltz has a distinct set of zoning laws compared to its surrounding township. In certain areas, the laws don’t mesh well. Elected officials and volunteers in both of New Paltz’s local governments have long bemoaned the lack of joint planning and land use.
Consolidation of the two governments was aimed, in part, to eliminate the need for two competing master plans. Opponents of a government merger — like Mayor Jason West and Councilman Jeff Logan — didn’t understand why consolidation alone was the only path toward shared services and joint planning.
“While consolidation may in some ways be a complex topic, the decision to undertake a joint town and village master plan … that decision is much less difficult, much less complex,” said Curt Lavalla, the village planner.
As the municipal planner, Lavalla will orchestrate this joint master plan. “The benefits of an updated master plan — and especially one that is intermunicipal — are greater than ever,” he said. “More than ever an updated master plan — and a very, very specific master plan — is key to getting funding.”
Supervisor Susan Zimet has been pushing for joint planning. She was happy with the decision, which includes land use in the village, “the heart and soul of the community.”
“What kind of master plan is that to have two communities planning independently?” the supervisor said. “It’s a contradiction of community.”
Work done previously on the town master plan hadn’t been adopted — mostly because the current Town Board hoped it could improve the plan by partnering with the village.
For town councilwoman Kitty Brown, the move to hire the local village planner to create a master plan has all the right overtones.
“My heart just leapt at this,” Brown said. Six years ago, the Town Board hired a Buffalo-based firm to write a new master plan. “But we committed a lot of money and energy to program” only to see it come back unsatisfactory, she said.
“It was just such a dispiriting process for everybody,” the councilwoman added.
A joint master plan has a chance of enacting some real change as well. Village Hall is in the act of updating its zoning laws. Joint planning could potentially iron out the areas where land-use planning clashes at the town-village line.
Village Board members voted 3-0 to move forward with a joint master plan. Mayor Jason West and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Rotzler were absent from the meeting.
Town Board members voted 5-0 to conduct a joint plan. Village and town officials still need to cement the deal with an official intermunicipal agreement, but they plan to solemnize their commitment soon.