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Greenprint extension proposed; Clarence program expires this year

Proponents of the Clarence Greenprint Program, which acquires land to protect it from development, are requesting a 10-year extension.

Town residents in 2002 approved borrowing $12.5 million for Greenprint, giving the town a decade to buy vacant land or the development rights to vacant property.

So far, about $6.8 million has been spent on 1,236 acres, meaning the town could still spend up to $5.7 million on land under the program.

With Greenprint set to expire this year, supporters are asking for another 10 years, while sticking with the original $12.5 million limit.

Michael B. Powers, a member of the town's Recreation Advisory Committee, hailed Greenprint as a successful tool for combating sprawl, protecting green space and increasing property values, while having a limited impact on residents' tax bills.

"Extending this program does not cost the taxpayers one penny, unless the town approves the purchase of a property," Powers told Town Board members this week. "So all we're asking for is to continue, extend it for another 10 years, give us the opportunity to use the remaining money that's in this fund, under the same programs with the same controls, and with our same policies and procedures."

The Recreation Advisory Committee works with the Western New York Land Conservancy on identifying and analyzing properties that could be a good fit for the Greenprint program. Property owners decide whether they want to participate. Recommendations are forwarded to the Town Board, which decides whether to approve a deal.

"I think it's one of the best programs the town has ever done to maintain quality of life into the future and keeping what we have intact," said Councilman Bernard J. Kolber. "I think it shows tremendous restraint that we did not go out and be forced to spend that [full] $12.5 million."

Powers said the $6.8 million spent on Greenprint properties has amounted to $14.10 in additional annual taxes for residents who own a property with $100,000 in assessed value. That cost per resident could drop if properties with conservation easements in place are resold, he said.

The Town Board will hold a public hearing June 27 about extending the program. Still to be resolved is whether the board or voters will decide on a 10-year extension.