What should Clarence look like in 10 years?
More than three dozen residents turned out Wednesday evening to help provide the answer in a town Planning Board session entitled “Mapping Clarence’s Future.”
It’s the first step in updating the master plan adopted in 2001, Jim Callahan, the town’s director of community development, explained as he laid out the ground rules. The previous one was called Master Plan 2015.
“With 2015 coming up,” he said, “we asked what changes need to be made to keep it current.”
The board decided to start by drawing a future zoning map.
“And that’s the exercise we want to do tonight,” he said, “with input from the community. Right now we’re calling it Master Plan 2025.”
The residents were invited to split into five groups in five rooms in Town Hall, each with a large map, colored pens, stickers and Post-it notes.
“You can do whatever you want to this map,” planner Jonathan Bloor said. “We’ve highlighted the hamlets and the roads. Everything else is left up to you.”
The group around the map in the Town Board meeting room had a semi-official ambiance. Facilitated by Planning Board chairman Robert Sackett, it included Councilman Robert A. Geiger, Peter Wolfe of the town Recreation Advisory Committee, and his wife, Elaine.
After Wolfe highlighted potential future greenspace areas on the map with a green marker, the discussion focused on bike paths, how to improve them and how to connect them. Wolfe noted that properties next to bike paths become more valuable, but neighbors resist them.
“When we started this bike path down here,” he said, pointing to the map, “you couldn’t believe the amount of [complaining]. But once they get used to it, they don’t mind it in their backyard.”
“Put down ‘Respect Private Property,’ ” Sackett told Elaine Wolfe, who was writing up Post-it notes. “That’s a condition.”
More ideas were rolling when one of the planners walked in to warn that the session was almost over and that, unlike this group, others had covered their maps with stickers and notes. He also told them to give their map a title.
“Classic Clarence?” one of the women suggested. “Or maybe Not Amherst?”
A few minutes later, the maps were displayed on the back wall of the board meeting room and residents chatted noisily in front of them.
“A lot of them want to preserve the agricultural land and enhance the commercial areas and the hamlet areas,” Callahan said. “One thing that came out of our group was to promote commercial growth on the state highways.”
Now the planners plan to sift through all the suggestions. They will present the results at 7 p.m. May 21 at a joint meeting of the Town Board and Planning Board in Town Hall.