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Philadelphia approves economic development plan

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Completing a process that started in 2008, the town of Philadelphia approved a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan at a public hearing Tuesday that will be used by the town and village to establish new zoning laws this summer, apply for grants and draw housing developers to the area to meet the demand at Fort Drum.

The town began developing the plan in 2008 by hiring engineering firm BME Associates of Rochester to complete a vision plan to identify community goals, conducting a community survey and hosting public workshops to do so. After finishing that plan in 2009, the town hired the Jefferson County Planning Department to develop the comprehensive plan in 2010.

Supervisor Cheryl K. Horton, who has held her position for 17 years, said the plan was formed to strengthen the town’s and village’s ability to acquire grants for projects.

The plan outlines a list of short-term and long-term priorities, including updating zoning laws, promoting public events by increasing signage and launching a website this summer, as well as establishing a bus stop in the village.

The town and village plan to start the process of updating zoning laws this summer, Mrs. Horton said, which will take about a year to complete. The last time the laws were updated was in 1998, and the area has evolved significantly over the past decade. According to state law, zoning laws for local governments must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan.

“There have been a lot of situations that have arisen that the plan didn’t cover, especially with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum and the expansion of Indian River School District. The area has changed, and we need to update these laws” for future businesses and developers, Mrs. Horton said.

Other long-term goals include expanding the water and sewer district outside of the village to support housing development in the town, establishing a chamber of commerce to promote local businesses and services, and rehabilitating houses and downtown businesses.

Mrs. Horton said she hopes the town and village will cooperate more in the future by hosting joint meetings, using the plan as a guide to determine future projects. “The key will be to make this a living document that helps us determine what we want to do,” she said.

The plan will receive final approval at a joint meeting of the town and village boards at 7 p.m. May 9 at the Town Hall off Route 11.

Following final approval, copies of the plan will be available to the public at the Town Hall and Bodman Memorial Library.

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