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Town of Clarence will present a plan for Main Street's future

The heavily traveled Main Street/Route 5 in Clarence is a study of contradictions as you travel from east to west, from farming communities to hamlets with small shops and churches to its busy commercial corridor near Transit Road.

A year-long study "Vision: Main Street Clarence" is designed to plan a future of "smart growth" while creating a brand that will define the town along its Main Street corridor.

The public is invited to a redevelopment plan presentation and asked to provide additional input, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Clarence High School library, 9625 Main St. The Vision: Main Street Clarence study was prepared by Clark Patterson Lee and a committee of Clarence Industrial Development Agency members and local business leaders. The study was funded by the Clarence IDA.

Supervisor Patrick Casilio said the town has already received a lot of public input on the plan.

"This will help guide the Town Board on planning decisions for Main Street," said Casilio. "We have different districts along Main Street and we want to make sure we have the right project for the right areas on Main Street."

Vision: Main Street Clarence Committee Vice Chairman Clayt Ertel said the town has done a good job on planning development in the rest of the town, but Main Street had been put on the back burner and was "a bit of a mish mosh." He said with development reaching a saturation point along Transit Road the town needs to expand businesses opportunities along Main Street without losing the rural character of Clarence.

Clarence had historically been characterized as a farming community and still is considered agricultural in the northern portion. There are even a few farms located along Main Street. There are also four segments of Main Street with different characteristics, including the hamlets of Harris Hill and Clarence Hollow, the Main and Sheridan section and the Gunnville Road/Clarence High School section. According to the town's 2030 Comprehensive Plan, prepared in 2015, the population of Clarence has grown by 70 percent in the last three decades.

"We want to plan for the future and we want a package that will be not only a practical way to develop Main Street, but also the character of the properties that will be built over the next 15 to 20 years. It will be an important part of the tax base in the future," Ertel said. "The study will also be a practical look at what this will cost and what funding will be needed from state and federal to redevelop portions of Main Street."

Landscaping, a public greenway and installation of sewers are part of the future plans. Ertel said they would like developers to include green spaces and landscaping in their plans to make the road more picturesque and preserve the agrarian character of the town.

"We have an excellent traffic count and some of the lowest taxes in the county. We also have a very high income level in our community and a major arterial that connects to the Thruway and the airport," said Ertel. "From a business standpoint the basic criteria they need for success is already in Clarence. We just have to make it more apparent to the development community and realistically work with them."

Members of the Clarence IDA and the Main Street Steering Committee and the design and planning professionals of Clarkson Patterson Lee will be available to answer questions about the study at Thursday's public information meeting. The public is expected to have several months to comment and a final plan is expected to adopted by June 1, said Ertel.

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