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Master plan stresses quality of life, economy

PORTER -- The town's new master plan features wineries, biking and hiking trails, small businesses and farmland preservation.

Implementation of the plan has begun, and those who had input foresee economic development, tourism, agricultural preservation and recreational improvements for the rural community.

"[The master plan] is a big picture of the town that the residents came together to build," said Patricia F. Lynch, co-chairwoman of the Master Plan Committee, which has worked on the document for about two years. The Town Board approved it earlier this year.

"We had many meetings. Some of them were focus groups, and we'd discuss issues in the town and what the people had for the vision of the town," Lynch said.

The plan calls for promoting farmland preservation through specific zoning requirements and better marketing of the area's farming. Lynch said a few ideas for improving the area's farming are growing vineyards, like those in neighboring towns, producing biofuel and offering niche crops. The area is already known for its apples.

"We know that our agricultural economy is declining because of the global market impact. We want to revive the agriculture by looking for new markets," Lynch said. "We could plant vineyards and make use of the [Niagara] wine trail to not only boost our agriculture, but boost our tourism."

The plan also sets aside areas for business development, Lynch said, "not the big-box businesses."

"What we're doing is concentrating any commercial development the village [of Youngstown] and the hamlet of Ransomville," she said.

Home development would be centered around those areas as well, Lynch said, and by concentrating high-density development in those areas, the town will be able to maintain its open space, a goal of the master plan.

Parks are just the beginning of the planned recreational and tourism development. Hiking and biking trails, camping, a town park and cross-country skiing are future possibilities.

"We're looking at anything that complements that, like bed-and-breakfasts," Lynch said.

The recreational facilities would be centered on the waterfront area.

To bring the master plan to life, the town aims to seek grants.

For information on the master plan, go online to www.porterplanning.com.

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