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Draft of plan for future unveiled

There was one central thought on the minds of the people who developed the draft of the Future Development Plan for Buffalo.

"Did we get it right?" Robert G. Shibley asked an audience of at least 200 people assembled at Erie Community College City Campus on Saturday for the land-use plan's unveiling.

"Have we set the right goals and principles for future development?" the dean of UB's School of Architecture and Planning asked.

The plan is based on three components. The sustainable economy component involves reinforcing downtown Buffalo as the regional hub and building a connection with Canada. The sustainable neighborhood element involves reinforcing traditional neighborhood characteristics, integrating transportation options in neighborhoods and supporting safe, affordable housing. And the sustainable environment component focuses on enhancing natural resources and preserving natural and cultural landmarks.

Once completed, the plan will establish the vision for the city's development for the next 20 years. It includes things community members want.

The road map has two parts, said Jacques Gourguechon, project director at Camiros, the nationally known planning firm based in Chicago that was hired by the city to draft the blueprint.

One element is the development plan, which hasn't been updated since 1977. The other is a zoning ordinance, which was last updated was in the early 1950s.

Saturday's public unveiling was a chance for consultants to gain additional input from the community to help refine the draft. A final edition will be completed by October 2012.

Much of the feedback on Saturday was positive.

"I see how [the plan] can be defined more, but as it is now, I'm happy with it," said 16-year-old Ne'Shay Kennon.

Since July she has worked at the farm at the Massachusetts Avenue Project and likes the fact that the updated plan encourages urban agriculture and farming.

Jessie Gouck, project manager for Healthy Kids, Healthy Community Buffalo, was excited about what she saw.

"There are pieces included around public health specific to active living [such as] walking, biking as part of our regular daily lives and healthy eating opportunities for urban farming and healthy food stores," she said.

While putting together the first draft, planners heard from several thousand residents and business people through public meetings, including three regional meetings in November 2010, nine community workshops in March and eight community advisory meetings, Shibley said.

Jackie Stiegler, 73, has lived in Buffalo her whole life and participated in the community sessions.

"We think it's good. They're on the right path. We feel very optimistic," she said.

A copy of the draft is available until Nov. 30 at

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