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Residents in the Town of Evans Thursday night got a first look at a draft plan for the town's future as officials unveiled its Comprehensive Plan during an informational meeting at Town Hall.

Town Supervisor Robert R. Catalino II said a copy of the document, which is still undergoing revisions, is available at the Town Hall and will be subject to a public hearing before adoption by the Town Board.

Comprehensive Plan Chairwoman Sandra L. Brant called the proposal, the first since 1963, "a good tool to lead us into the 21st century."

Planning consultants were on hand to give an overview of the plan and seek input from residents about their concerns.

"The purpose of tonight's meeting is to hear from you," Drew Reilly of Wendel, engineering consultants, said. He said the plan provides a common direction, goals and objectives for the town.

Some of the goals include better use of the waterfront, raising the quality of life, identifying environmentally sensitive areas, and encouraging the character of the town, as well as ensuring an integrated transportation system.

Reilly said Evans is the 12th largest town in Erie County, which he said is a positive thing, but one that presents some challenges.

He said the town, for its size, has very good infrastructure, excellent waterfront resources and large areas of open space, environmental areas, and an agricultural base.

Wendy E. Weber Salvati, another consultant from Wendel, said putting a comprehensive plan together involved the establishment of goals and objectives.

"You create your framework," she said. "It helps you guide your decision making." She said gathering and analyzing the information helps define "where you want the town to go and how you want to get there."

Much of the focus of Thursday's meeting was the land use trend map, which was broken down into 14 districts, including rural, agricultural industrial, and residential.

Reilly stressed that the land use map was not a zoning map but said the town will use it to change the zoning map.

Some of the concerns raised by residents included keeping the rural character of certain areas of the town, preserving the historic areas, and controlling development.

Jim Snyder said he was concerned about what he perceived to be preferential treatment of some residents.

"If you want to promote this area, you have to enforce the laws you have now," he said. "Otherwise it's . . . going to be a trashy town and nobody here wants that."

Don Huber suggested the town consider recognizing different kinds of agricultural businesses, such as stables, aquafarms and Christmas Tree farms by offering tax incentives. He also said he hoped the town would consider putting a moratorium on tax exempt and not-for-profit zonings in the town.

Ms. Brant said the committee would take residents' suggestions into consideration as it finalizes the plan.

"The Town Board will try to schedule a public hearing as soon as the committee recommends the plan to them," she said.

The committee has held four public meetings so far, completing the first draft this month.

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