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Peru Seeking Public Input on Open Spaces

June 14, 2008

By Jeff Meyers, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Jun. 14–PERU — Officials from the Town of Peru are seeking public input on the significance of open spaces in the community.

The town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, which has spent the last few years developing a plan of action for dealing with zoning-related issues, will host an open-space workshop next Thursday.

“The Comprehensive Plan provides guidelines for the town on how to develop land in the future,” said Planning Committee member Rodney Brown. “When the town makes land-development decisions, those decisions should be based on guidelines.”

The Comprehensive Plan was recently adopted by the Town Council and establishes directions that lawmakers can take on regulating future development.

For instance, the plan says that regulations for outdoor wood boilers is needed, and the town is now moving forward with a plan to establish wood-boiler regulations.

Open-space protection is another area the plan recognizes as a need of significance.

Community members recognized a variety of “valuable resources” in the town’s open spaces, said committee member Keith Matott, including such open areas as farm fields, apple orchards and the mountainous areas along the western fringes of the town.

“What are the valuable open spaces in Peru, and how do we want to protect?” Brown said. “I think you’ll find a lot of people live in Peru because of the way it looks. We hope to find out at the workshop what the public values in terms of open spaces.”

“We want as much community participation as possible,” Matott added. “We’ve valued the community input we’ve received throughout the entire process.”

Several options are available for protecting open spaces, and the workshop will give the community an opportunity to look at those options, Brown noted.

“The easiest way is to buy (property with open spaces). But the Town of Peru doesn’t have a lot of money to go out and buy property solely for the view.”

Those kinds of property purchases are typically reserved for places where town residents would be using the property for recreational purposes, such as athletic fields or parks, he added.

The conservation easement is another option that allows the landowner to retain property but prohibits its future development.

For instance, a farmer could continue working the property following the conservation easement and could sell the property for continued agricultural use but not for other kinds of development.

Formal regulations are also a possibility and are often being used, such as in the case of set-back requirements for building constructions.

The town has hired a planning consultant who will facilitate the upcoming workshop. After the public gathering, the consultant will work to map all identified open spaces and important natural lands to help the town develop a strategic plan for protecting them.

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

to attend

The Peru open-space workshop will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Peru Community Fellowship Center and is open to the public.

For more information, call Adele Douglas at 643-7863.

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