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April 15, 2007

NORTH TONAWANDA: Planning for the future

North Tonawanda, NY — North Tonawanda’s last master plan for the city was developed in 1990, and by all accounts, it’s spent a lot of time on the shelf.

The city is currently starting the process of developing a new master plan, which is meant to guide development in the city in many ways, including zoning and land use.

The challenge is getting the master plan to matter.

Lumber City Development Corporation Economic Development Coordinator Chuck Bell spent two years working for a land use planning firm as a consultant, he said. He’s now tackling a master plan from the city’s point of view.

“It’s a blueprint for how you want the community to develop,” Bell said. “Zoning is a huge part of that. That’s the best way to dictate development.”

Zoning issues that arise in the city can be guided by the master plan in the future in order to make a decision, LCDC Executive Director Jim Sullivan said.

A city’s master plan can also be a major asset when seeking grants, Sullivan said.

“As a community development person, the first thing you refer to with a lot of grants is the master plan,” Sullivan said. “Many grants are based on what you’re putting in your master plan.”

A master plan should be re-visited annually, and it should be re-examined thoroughly every five years, Bell said.

The last master plan failed to make much of a difference for a variety of reasons, according to officials. The old plan was too generic, Sullivan said.

North Tonawanda Assistant City Attorney Bob Sondel held the same position for the city when the last plan was developed. The previous plan didn’t take off because it failed to account for what already existed in the city, Sondel said.

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