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Ackerman presents Town Board her revised master plan update

Councilwoman Nan Ackerman on Wednesday presented the Orchard Park Town Board her update of the draft version of the town's comprehensive plan.
It's a project that has it roots in planning grants from Erie County and goes back several years. It still has to undergo review by the rest of the board, a public hearing and then likely passage by the board.

"It's basically what it was, with the additional comments that everybody submitted," Ackerman said, referring to input gathered during public comment periods last summer and fall.

For example, she said, suggestions were made for managing Smokes Creek that she thought could work well with all of the town's creeks.

"So we went from the specific to the general," she said.

Ackerman acknowledged she would be criticized on the plan.

"I have done what I think is appropriate; I am proud of the work I've done," said Ackerman. "Obviously there are other agendas at work here, too."

The draft plan was criticized when Ackerman presented it last year. Instead of including a land-use plan the town received in 2002, early in the planning process, it made the land-use plan an appendix.

Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy created an advisory group to expedite completion of the plan, and its members criticized the earlier plan for "lack of vision."

After the meeting Wednesday, Travers Murphy said she had just been presented the plan and had not had time to examine it yet.

"We want to sit down, compare and contrast, let my supervisor's advisory group -- who had a lot to say about the initial one -- take it from there," Travers Murphy said.

The supervisor said she is looking for a plan with "a vision for Orchard Park, where anyone comes in here and says, 'Oh, a Wal-Mart wants to come to Orchard Park . . .' and see how that jibes with the comprehensive plan."

Travers Murphy said she hadn't seen that in the initial draft.

The issue has been one of the major ones in the town elections, where Ackerman, a Republican, and Democrat Deborah Yeomans are both running for re-election, facing Republican Ed Graber Jr. and Democrat Anne Marie McManus.

The Democrats have insisted the town is operating without a plan, while the Republicans have said the town has been operating under the old plan and applying new tools, such as the 2002 land use study.

The new version of the draft plan doesn't call for any major zoning changes. It does call for creating a team to prioritize goals and implement them and it suggests creating a permanent zoning commission, Ackerman said.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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