Town mulls comprehensive plan

Town of Orleans

LAFARGEVILLE — Officials and volunteers from the town of Orleans have been composing a modified comprehensive plan for the town, and will soon present a complete draft for public feedback.

A comprehensive plan helps guide future development and zoning regulations by providing a broad forward looking statement for the town and essential information about its characteristics, population, assets and goals. The plan, which can also help get grants, also includes reports, maps, charts and other materials that can help direct the preservation of the town’s features and short- and long-term growth.

A committee launched by the Orleans Town Council in the spring of 2018 has been composing an updated plan for 15 months with help from the Jefferson County Planning Department. The current 117-page plan includes eight chapters that encompass public input collected so far, historic and recent trends in the town, matters pertaining to transportation, community facilities, environment and natural resources, business-related trends and economic development, land use and town character and the town’s vision, goals, objectives and considerations.

“I will say the last full comprehensive plan the town had created or adopted was in 1961, so it has been awhile,” said county Senior Planner Andy Nevin.

The county planners and zoning officer Lee Shimel hosted an informational and public input session, particularly for the vision, goals and objectives in the draft plan, on July 18 at the LaFargeville Central School. Officials previously solicited input using a mail and online survey and by hosting two open houses about the plan held in the summer of 2018.

The plan’s vision emphasizes the importance of preserving the town’s “unique environment/quality of life” and “fostering investment to allow business and farms to flourish while enticing employment opportunities.”

The draft plan features 18 goals, including improving sidewalks and pedestrian connectivity, pinpointing where municipal water and sewer systems are needed, promoting green infrastructure like rain gardens and bioswales that enhance storm resiliency, identifying appropriate places for “compatible renewable energy systems” and retaining the community’s young people with local jobs.

Much of the plan’s 22 objectives focus on meeting those goals, as well as fostering economic development on Route 12, preserving productive farmland and environmental assets, pursuing marketing opportunities for the town and its hamlets, emphasizing development and fostering a local labor market.

Jack Woodward, a committee member from Wellesley Island, said he wants to highlight the importance of the school in the plan and encourage objectives that support it. His wife, Susan Woodward, said she wants to incorporate components that help tackle blighted “zombie” properties throughout the town. Zombie properties have been listed in the plan as a weakness of the town, Mr. Shimel said.

“You could use terminologies like ‘beautification,’” Mr. Woodward said, “there could be a thought process that the town says ‘You know what? We want to look good!’.... and then you translate that into the kinds of law and order in order to make it that way.”

With the conclusion of the input session on July 18, the committee must next finalize the draft plan, conduct a public hearing and then send it to the town board. The town board must also hold a public hearing on the plan before it considers adopting it.

Anyone with questions about the plan can contact Mr. Shimel at or Mr. Nevin at

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this and glad T.I. Park has a voice,” said Stephanie Johnston, general manager for Thousand Island Park Corp. who serves on the committee.

Orleans: By the numbers

n The population from 1980 to 2016 is up 40.7 percent

n The highest uptick in population was among people 65 and over at 101.6 percent

n The number of housing units from 1980 to 2016 is up 42.7 percent

n The number of vacant houses in the town from 1980 to 2016 is down 35.6 percent

n The number of businesses in LaFargeville is up 73.9 percent

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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