Smithtown officials are moving forward to complete a decadelong effort to update the town’s comprehensive plan, which inventories the area’s natural resources, community facilities, transportation and economic base in eight volumes.
Town planning officials expect to make a public presentation of their findings and recommendations at the town planning board meeting on Sept. 21, officials said. The presentation will also include results from a community survey that more than 700 residents completed during June and July, planning officials said.
Allyson Murray, a town environmental planner, said survey results showed that about 80 percent of respondents think sewer systems should be expanded, particularly in areas prone to surface water or groundwater flooding, and in downtowns. About 65 percent of respondents wanted more walking or running trails, and about 85 percent supported the town’s efforts to acquire open space.
Roughly 75 percent of respondents felt that the town had the appropriate number of parks, said Murray, but about 50 percent rated Kings Park’s downtown as “poor or below average,” and about 40 percent said Smithtown’s downtown was “poor or below average.”
The town’s comprehensive plan was last adopted in 1961, and town planners have worked over the past 10 years to update it, Murray said.
“The whole purpose of the plan is to represent what the people who live here want for the future of the town,” she said of the feedback. “And in order to do that we need the public to be involved in drafting it. The town board is going to have to hold a public hearing on this before the town board can adopt the plan.”
The board also cannot adopt the plan before a required review is conducted to ensure that the plan has no negative impact on the environment, Murray added.
After next month’s presentation, planning board members are expected to make their own recommendations that will be sent to the town board, officials said.
Planning board chairman Conrad Chayes said the adoption of the plan will “assist the town in fending off legal challenges to zoning and land-use decisions. It will also assist planners in applying for grants, because they will be able to cite points from a recent comprehensive plan,” he said. “Ultimately, both of these things will save the taxpayers money. It will allow us to receive grant revenue, as well as avoid legal challenges.”