Last thoughts on Tusten comprehensive plan

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 4/21/21

NARROWSBURG, NY — Tusten’s draft Comprehensive Plan (the plan), in the making for more than a year, is now in the hands of the National Park Service (NPS). Reviewed by the Upper Delaware …

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Last thoughts on Tusten comprehensive plan

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NARROWSBURG, NY — Tusten’s draft Comprehensive Plan (the plan), in the making for more than a year, is now in the hands of the National Park Service (NPS). Reviewed by the Upper Delaware Council and found to be in substantial conformance with the River Management Plan (RMP—a document that guides planning, zoning and code enforcement for all river corridor communities in the Upper Delaware Region), the plan has been submitted to NPS for review and commentary.

If NPS also finds the plan in substantial conformance with the RMP and has no additional revision suggestions, the plan will be returned to the Tusten Town Board, lead agency for its implementation, for adoption.

A comprehensive plan is a community’s vision of its future. In addition to serving as a model for development, a comprehensive plan is frequently used as documentation for grant applications. The plan should detail how the community will look and how it will operate commercial, recreational, utility, waste management, and health and safety facilities. Most of these details fall under the rubric of planning, zoning and code enforcement.

It is not surprising, then, that one of the eight members appointed to the plan committee and tasked with drafting a new plan is the town’s own code enforcement officer, Jim Crowley. Rounding out the committee are the town’s sole real property tax assessor, Ken Baim, former executive director of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance Elaine Giguere, retired New York State Police detective Arthur Hawker, town supervisor Ben Johnson, deputy town supervisor and grant committee chair Jane Luchsinger, town clerk Crystal Weston, and longtime resident and community activist Jim Farrell.

Starting in January 2020, the committee has met at least once monthly and, recently, sometimes two, three or more times a month to complete its mission. This unpaid work continued despite periodic state and national lockdowns designed to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic. Assisting and advising the committee was Genius Loci Planning Principal Peter Manning. Manning has 20 years of experience in municipal planning and land use training at the local, county, regional and state levels. He holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Cornell University and has made sustainable development of the Catskills Region his specialty.

At an April 13 public hearing on the plan, Manning credited committee members with accomplishing a daunting and complex task under challenging, unforeseeable circumstances. “The plan would not have been so excellent had it not been for these people on the committee and the many excellent suggestions received from the public,” said Manning. Suggestions from the public were proactively solicited via survey and welcomed from every corner and all formats.

The hearing opened with what was maybe the last chance for public commentary on the plan. Tusten Beautification Group member Star Hesse said that, in her opinion, the plan was superb; her main concern, however, was that it might be difficult, or impossible, to implement and enforce. She pointedly asked Johnson to address those concerns.

Manning, who fielded her comment, said, “The plan is a policy document only, not a law. All laws must eventually be compliant with the plan, but that does not need to happen immediately.”

New planning board member Vicki Yunhui Olman also asked that the plan include provision for the training of town board and planning board members.

NPS expects to complete its review of the plan in two to three weeks, which means that the town board could vote to adopt the plan at its May 11 regular board meeting, which will be held both via Zoom and in person.

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