Natural Resources Committee, Wayne County Master Plan

The meeting was held from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Wayne County Courthouse in Lyons. The following people attended the meeting, which was facilitated by Cynthia Hill, Master Plan Consultant: Dave Hoffman, Newark; Glen Wallis, Lyons; Dave Feindel, Williamson; Gay Mills, Monroe County (Genesee Land Trust); David Sloane , Arcadia (Wayne County Buildings and Grounds/Parks); and Bill Ryder, Macedon.

People attending the meeting authorized the distribution of their contact information, even on the web. [Please let Cynthia Hill know if you were not at the meeting and would like to keep your information private.]

The committee will generally meet the 1st Monday of the month. The next meeting was scheduled for April 7th at the Cooperative Extension Building in Newark [the meeting room is reserved]. The meeting will focus on developing goals for the master plan.

Glen Wallis volunteered to convene the meetings, which includes calling people before meetings to encourage them to attend.

The consultant distributed copies of an ongoing list of ideas for enhancing Wayne County. Anyone in the County may contribute to this list. The committee will discuss goals for enhancing natural resources at its next meeting.

The consultant highlighted existing planning documents for protecting and enhancing Wayne County’s natural resources, including the following publications: Comprehensive Watershed Management in Wayne County, Wayne County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, Wayne County Office of Tourism’s Tourism Research, Strategic Organization and Marketing Plan, a plan for the Montezuma Wetlands Complex by Cornell students, Wayne County Recreationways Master Plan, and a master plan from 1967 for the towns of Butler, Huron, Rose, and Wolcott,
and the Villages of Wolcott and Red Creek. Dave Feindel has a copy of a planning document prepared to investigate the viability of constructing a particle accelerator in Wayne County. The facility
was built in the southwestern US but the planning document has much useful information.

One participant shared a document that shows what land is important to preserve if one wants to protect endangered amphibians.

David Sloane discussed the resources available at the Buildings and Grounds/Parks Department (12 parks, 10 along the canal) and some of the challenges involved in financing the parks program.
He mentioned the challenge of funding shoreline erosion control projects, specifically at Sodus Point and at B. Forman Park. Forman has lost 70 feet in 16 years. David said the County is looking for right of first refusal on properties adjacent to existing parks should they become available for sale.

One participant highlighted a particular parcel of land near Forman that would be a possible addition to County parkland.

The consultant solicited volunteers to help collect information regarding existing conditions in the County. Glen Wallis offered to help map vegetation and land cover and unique vegetation. Gay
Mills will refer the consultant to experts on bird habitat. The group reviewed a report on protecting amphibians and referred the consultant to a group called Frog Watch. Cynthia Hill will also
get information from the Natural Heritage Program on endangered species. Louise Hartshorn in Monroe County will know where to obtain information on toxic wastes/brown fields. Dave Feindel will provide information on natural resources and open space goals for his town. The consultant expressed a hope that all towns could provide similar information to the consultant. Bill Ryder is interested in preserving our heritage and has gathered information for the Erie Canal Heritage Authority. Gay Mills suggested that the consultant explore land use and land tenure via tax assessment records. That inventory should include privately protected lands.

The consultant presented an idea for a privately financed, revolving fund that would be available to promote wise land development or conservation. Funds could be used to purchase land and then to hold the land temporarily until governmental organizations had time to purchase the land, put easements on it, or subdivide it. Public purposes could include securing public access to the waterfront, securing a trails easement, or placing an easement on the property to protect a drinking water resource. The Genesee Land Trust does not have enough funds for this purpose but is connected with some other organizations that do have funds.

The consultant proposed a program for promoting the local sale of locally produced food, decreasing the overhead for vegetable/fruit farmers, and encouraging the economic viability of at least some Wayne County farms: “Put your money where your eyes are.” The program would need endorsement and financial support from farms.

Cynthia Hill stated that to preserve natural areas, the County needs money. Economic development allows for sound environmental stewardship. Cynthia provided information on how a community might promote walkable, mixed use, attractive development near existing town centers. Such development would funnel the demand for housing and commerce into appropriate areas, leaving more land available for open space, parks, agriculture, and natural resource protection.

Participants proposed the following goals for natural resource protection:

The County should adopt a map that shows all the space that should ever be preserved for future generations based on 100% buildout [as per municipal zoning and land regulation].

Preserve the wildlife diversity of the County

Promote bike trails that are off roads in lieu of on-road bike trails. (Seaway trail, for example).

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