MAHOPAC, N.Y. - While in the works for some time now, the town’s preparation for establishing a new Master Plan and a revised code is coming to the fore and town officials say that input and feedback from the community is vital to the process.
Sometimes known as a comprehensive plan, a master plan determines community goals and aspirations for development, including zoning and housing issues. It’s been 20 years since Carmel updated its plan.
Deputy Supervisor Suzi McDonough, who is spearheading the Master Plan project for the Town Board, says that in order to create that vision, residents need to step up. Two events—a series of workshops and a survey—are being planned to let them do just that.
“This is a vision about the future and what [residents] want and we need to hear what they have to say,” McDonough said. “We cannot wait till next year. Now is the time.
“This is for both the code revision and the aesthetics—what we want the town to look like,” she continued. “We want the young adults and seniors and business owners [to take part]. Every demographic.”
McDonough said the code revisions will look at the types of housing that will be allowed and the size of the lots required; the types of signage that are permitted and where parking is allowed and not allowed.
“It will look at colors and siding on businesses, and whether we want floating zones,” she said. “A floating zone is like if a business comes to town and wants to put in an ice rink, but the code only allows for a certain type of thing. If they can prove the benefits, we can allow it as a floating zone. So, anything that people want to see they need to bring it to us. You can’t sit on the couch and then wish you had brought it up.”
Residents can “bring it up” via two methods now being planned. The first will be through two workshops planned for Thursday, Oct. 29. The first will be held 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Sycamore Park. The second is slated to be held at Town Hall, 5-8 p.m.
The workshops will be overseen by Nelson Pope & Voorhis, the Melville, N.Y.-based consulting firm the town hired to act as a consultant on the project.
McDonough said the workshops will feature seven stations that attendees can visit, ask questions and see the different types of possible development for the town and give their feedback.
“It will be a hands-on kind of workshop,” McDonough said. “We will let just 50 people in at a time and have masks, gloves and sanitizer available and will follow all the CDC guidelines.”
Residents need to register for the workshops and can do so by going to the town’s website (www.ci.carmel.ny.us) and clicking on the blue link in the center of the page for “comprehensive master plan workshop meeting sign up.”
The second way residents can participate in the process is by taking a survey, which is also being overseen by Nelson Pope & Voorhis. It’s also found on the town website. You will find the link at the top of the list under the “Citizen Action Center” banner. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete.
McDonough said the pandemic has slowed the Master Plan reboot process down a little but notes that Nelson Pope & Voorhis has been working behind the scenes the entire time and has not missed a beat.
“The whole world is upside down, but we are moving forward,” she said. “We never really stopped and when we get to the ‘new normal’ we will have everything in place.”
Nelson Pope & Voorhis put together a committee that has been meeting with town officials and stakeholders via Zoom. Now, McDonough said, the next step is to get public input. The consulting firm will then take that input to the Town Board, which will sift through it, organize the content and then present it back to the public before moving to the next step.
“They are an unbelievable firm to work with. They care what we want, which is nice,” McDonough said.