Where are we now?
That’s the main question a Woodstock Comprehensive Plan committee is trying to answer as it works with a consultant, Behan Planning & Design, on a plan to address the town’s needs for the long term.
The process is expected to take several months and the committee will be seeking public input along the way. To that end, Behan and the committee will hold a community meeting June 22 at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center from 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
While some input will be welcome at this meeting, the main purpose will be an introduction to the players involved and to explain the process. This first meeting will start the discussion on current issues.
Additional meetings will be scheduled for the next phase, “Where do we want to be?”
A Comprehensive Plan, known as the Brown and Anthony Plan, was last adopted in 1962. Several attempts have been made to update it, most recently about a decade ago, but those were never adopted.
The committee has been holding regular meetings, each with guest speakers and department heads to determine the current state of our resources and services. On June 14, Highway Superintendent Mike Reynolds and Police Chief Clayton Keefe told the committee what they believe are current needs. “The big thing is parking,” said Reynolds. “More and more this town is turning into a tourist town.”
Committee member Paul Shultis Jr., who is also on the Planning Board, agreed parking is a constant issue and is not being alleviated with the town’s zoning law payment in-lieu-of parking system. When a new business cannot provide enough off-street parking, it must pay the town for spaces to make up the difference. The money is supposed to be used for maintaining and expanding the town’s parking lots on Rock City Road, Mountain View and Comeau Drive.
But the town just sold 20 spaces with no guarantee there’s a place to put them, Shultis said.
Comp plan committee chair Kirk Ritchey said the town must work with other agencies to get deficiencies addressed through a process called betterments. He used the upcoming Route 212 refurbishment as an example.
“When the DOT comes to town, we lean on them” to get sidewalks and crosswalks installed, since they’re already tearing up the road, he said.
Reynolds said the town needs to address infrastructure.
“We’re not keeping up,” he said. “We’re doing pretty good with bridges,” he noted, as the town replaced three bridges in the last few years.
No plans to expand police force
The biggest change to the Police Department came in 1985, when the town transitioned to a full-time department. There were two officers per shift, and that staffing level remains today, Keefe said. The department has increased the number of part-timers, a measure that saves overtime costs.
The part-time officers “only work when full-timers are on vacation or sick leave,” Keefe said.
One of the biggest issues aside from parking and traffic hassles in the tourist season is noise complaints. “We do need to look at that law so it’s up-to-date and enforceable,” Keefe said. The zoning law regulates noise through specific decibel limits at the property line, but is only enforceable through the Building Department.
Police respond to noise and loud music complaints by asking the offending parties to keep it down, but they cannot issue tickets.
Committee’s work continues
On June 28, the committee will hear a presentation from Woodstock Land Conservancy Chairman Kevin Smith on the state of natural resources. Assessor Mark Plate and Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer/Code Enforcement Officer Ellen Casciaro are scheduled for July 12.
All committee meetings are open to the public and are held in the town offices, 45 Comeau Drive, on the second and fourth Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.