Economic Resources Committee, Wayne County Master Plan

NEXT MEETING: May 22, 2003, 7 PM, Old Lyons Courthouse

The meeting was held from 7 to 8:45 pm at the Wayne County Cornell Cooperative Extension Building in Newark. The following people attended the meeting, which was facilitated by Antje Dirksen Post of Sodus Center: Beth Claypoole, Cornell Cooperative Extension; Cynthia Hill, Master Plan Consultant; BJ Meeks, Newark; Jim Switzer, Ontario; Robert Krause, Genesee Land Trust; Ora Rothfuss, North Rose; Richard Cirulli, Arcadia; Barbara Harper, Economic Development Corporation; Bert Everhart, Butler; Ange DeJohn, Newark; and Elizabeth Henderson, Arcadia. Ken DiSanto arrived after introductions.

Meeks presented the following recommendations:

We should preserve our sense of place by preserving the rural atmosphere. Commerce and industry should serve the community rather than vice versa.

When developing the canal, there should be a balance between commercial and

recreational interests.

We should work to attract small-scale artesian businesses to our downtowns.

Switzer added that in Ontario rents are too high, two people own the hamlet, and we need to attract quality stores to the area. In Walworth, planning has succeeded. Cirulli added that to entice customers, towns need specialty shops. Dirksen Post thanked BJ and noted that we will return to these suggestions periodically as we continue planning. Hill added that she has collected resources from the American Planning Association Conference that would help Wayne County improve historic hamlets and towns.

Krause stated that the Land Trust wants to participate in the master planning. He described the mission and practices of the Trust. Cirulli asked if preserving open space diminished the tax base and Krause said that the impact, counting direct and indirect impacts, is neutral. Hill suggested that the citizens use the master plan process to help target where the Land Trust should focus resources. Every development can have open space associated with it, and towns can require that these open spaces be contiguous. The meeting participants voiced support for cluster developments with a provision for open space. Switzer said that, if towns allow payments in lieu of requiring open space, the exaction needs to be expensive enough so that developers have incentive to leave some of their land in open space. Hill added that if we can find donors of funds, perhaps the Trust could steward a revolving fund that would buy environmentally or  agriculturally
important properties that come up for sale, subdivide them and place appropriate easements on them, and then sell them for an appropriate use (including, in some cases, residential, industrial, or commercial development), recouping the cost of the raw land so that the money could be used again to help ensure appropriate land use.

The Agriculture Preservation and Development Board, represented by Rothfuss and the Board’s Chair, Henderson, presented a summary of the Board’s work over the last decade. This work culminated in a County Agricultural Plan, the hiring of Rothfuss to help foster agriculture, a right-to-farm ordinance in the County, an enhanced Agricultural District program, and a highly successful program to purchase development easements. Rothfuss provided an overview of these programs. Continuing issues include the fact that farmers receive only $0.35 to 0.65 in services for every dollar in taxes paid because of the burden of property taxes. This burden forces farmers to sell roadside property. Another important issue is how to transfer farms from one generation to the next. A third issue is that the farmers would like the community to support them by buying their produce. Local support helps the confidence of the agricultural community when faced with unnerving challenges from weather, national policies, and international markets.

Agriculture is the 3rd or 4th largest industry, although that doesn’t include nurseries and all the agricultural businesses such as food processors. For every dollar that the agricultural sector earns,
as many as four are earned by the community as a whole in providing services that support the farms. Claypoole stated that the statistics underestimate farm income by 20%. Large farms are getting bigger, and there are more small farms, but the County is losing middle-sized farms. The farm economy is stable in Wayne now but is fragile because of the age of the farmers and because of international competition. Cirulli suggested we do nothing to mess up our successful agriculture while we enhance all sectors of the economy, especially manufacturing, which is declining. Harper stated that energy prices are critical in retaining food producers.

The meeting approved the following resolution: The County should preserve and build on [enhance] existing industries, including agriculture. Citizens from all economic sectors should work together to forge a vision that supports a diverse and multifaceted economy.

Dirksen Post suggested we keep in mind an imaginary shining city on a hill, strive to reach it, but remain flexible so we can constantly adjust our strategy as we forge toward the shining city. Members of the committee agreed.

Hill handed out a list of all the ideas related to agriculture that citizens have suggested over the last three months. She also provided excerpts from existing plans regarding tourism and the economy. We need to reaffirm or decide to change previously adopted plans for agriculture, tourism and economic development. Please look over these excerpts and ideas and rate whether you agree with them or disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree. Then return them to Hill (mail to 2450 County Rd. 25, Clifton Springs, NY 14432 if you don’t come to the meeting) to help her prepare a list of resolutions and discussion items for the next meeting. The goal is to prepare goals and policies and strategies that the citizens support, and then to present these items to the Supervisors for their review.

Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia M. Hill

Master Plan Consultant

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