The Town of Clarkstown receives the Founders Award on Friday from The Theodore W. Kheel Center on the Resolution of Environmental Interest Disputes for its Comprehensive Plan. The Kheel Center is part of the Land Use Law Center of the Pace University Law School. Work on the town’s comprehensive plan began in 2007 and was completed in 2009 and implementation of it continues.
“It was an enormous amount of work to fully evaluate the Town and provide a realistic and detailed plan to guide our decisions for the next ten years,” said Town Councilman and Chair of the Comprehensive Plan Special Board George Hoehmann. “It is also a great deal of work to implement the recommendations to make the plan come alive, which we are still doing.”
The Founder’s Award is given to municipalities that have worked collaboratively with their community and have reinvented democracy to make change happen in their communities.
It will be presented at Friday’s Tenth Annual Land Use Law Center's “Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference: Sustainable Development in Tough Economic Times.” The conference takes place in White Plains.
The conference program describes Clarkstown’s process. The Town of Clarkstown in Rockland County, New York, set its sights on achieving the Town’s long term planning needs, modeling its Comprehensive Plan after an Environmental Impact Statement. This unique grassroots approach maximizes planning resources, and through the use of GIS technology, the Town will be better able to forecast potential environmental and biodiversity issues.
Hoehmann said the Special Board formed subcommittees for housing, transportation, and cost benefit analysis. Recent of Routes 9W, 303 and 304 and legislation concerning hamlet center zoning changes and senior housing are also part of the ongoing process. The Special Board meets regularly on Friday mornings twice a month and in subcommittees.
The members joining Hoehmann on the board include: Town Planner Joe Simoes; Planning Board Chairperson Shirley Thormann; Rudy Yacyshun, Peter Strietman and Jim Creighton of the Planning Department; Charlie Maneri and Peter Beary of the Building Department; Planning Board Member Christopher Carey; Denis Letson of Department of Environmental Control; Dan Krashauer of the Town Attorney’s Office; Catherine Nowicki of Economic Development; Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard; Councilwoman Shirley Lasker; GIS Director Wil Wittington; Senior Citizen Coordinator Rudy Damonti, and Superintendent of Recreation & Parks Joanne Pedersen.
Hoehmann said numerous initiatives, zone changes and text amendments have been brought forth.
“In short the plan is doing what it was intended to do - be a framework and guide for development and land use for the Town,” said Hoehmann.
The plan serves as a model. Hoehmann, Lasker and Simoes met with the Mayor of New Rochelle and his staff two weeks ago to explain the comprehensive plan as that community looks to develop one of its own. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson is receiving the Kheel Center’s Groundbreaker’s Award for sustainable development. Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack, Councilmember Frank Borelli, Lasker, Simoes, Thormann and Hoehmann are among the town representatives expected to attend the presentation.
Additional recognition for the comprehensive plan has come from PACE Land Use and Law Center Director Professor John Nolon. Hoehmann said Nolon has lectured across the country and referenced Clarkstown “for the process we undertook and the end result - the Comprehensive Plan modeled upon an Environmental Impact Statement.”
In the case study of Clarkstown’s Comprehensive Plan, Simoes explained the 1966 Comprehensive Plan updated in 1999 and then officials realized it was time to “start over.”
Established in 1993, the Pace University Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. The Kheel Center was launched in April 2008 to train lawyers in environmental and land use dispute resolution, and is housed at the Land Use Law Center on the Pace Law School campus in White Plains. The mission of the Kheel Center is to promote the use of non-traditional forums to resolve environmental and land disputes.