Grand Island to act on 20-year-old master plan, as change abounds

Mar 1, 2018

Grand Island reviewed its proposed master plan Wednesday night, as it considers whether the more than two-decade-old plan will well serve in the future.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The master plan is about to go to the Town Board for action, as Grand Island deals with the rapid increase in small farms and increasing number of small commercial neighborhoods.

Significant issues include a proposed truck stop, a new trailway replacing a road and removal of the Thruway toll booths, although not the tolls. It still has Beaver Island and Buckhorn state parks and has large wetland areas, as well as areas with sewers and areas without.

Planners and the Town Board also have to decide on recommendations contained in the master plan, like continuing to use the Nike Site for a senior citizens center and potentially expanding it. There is also the issue of potentially increasing the density around what is called the Town Center, location of Town Hall in an auto-centric community.

Mike McDonough questioned restrictions on small businesses in industrial districts.

"Of industrial properties, sometimes the market could really demand that a small restaurant or some kind of another service oriented business go in that area, that may not fit the zoning or the use, but could very well be successful based on market law," McDonough said.

Dave Reilly is a vocal opponent of a truck stop proposed in the Town Center along the Thruway. He was concerned about code enforcement.

"If you actually engage in the process of code enforcement, which arguably the town has not done a fantastic job of in certain spaces, how do we encourage those two pieces as we move forward with this vision to be successful?" Reilly asked.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Deputy Supervisor James Sharpe said residents want to be sure the value of their homes is protected.

"When you buy a piece of property, you want to know what your back yard is. You want to know what it's been zoned for. You want to know what it's going to be in the future," Sharpe said, "and so it's the kind of thing that people have insurances that development in the community will go in such a way that they would like to see it go, especially if they are going to be investing so much money in their life and especially on one of the most expensive investments they are going to make in their life."

Sharpe said he is familiar with the planning process because he was the lead town council member for the last plan in 1995 and updated three years later.

The plan was presented at a public meeting at Grand Island High School, run by Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa, who was the lead planner for the project at consultant Clark Patterson Lee and is finishing it up. Kulpa said the master plan is flexible.

"You could cease all tweaks at the Town Center, prescriptively. However, inherently in the zoning, it's okay," he said. "If you are going to build here, here's the rules. It's all that we're looking to do is set the rules and set the table and then see what happens as the market comes to eat."