Caroga approves comprehensive plan

CAROGA – The town passed its comprehensive plan unanimously Tuesday, more than two years after town officials asked for the public’s input on the new plan.

The new plan will set the zoning plans for the town moving forward, with some minor changes and calls for the development of a “town center” that would be the focus of economic activity for the community.

Tuesday’s meeting began with a public hearing on the plan, with the only speakers being former Planning Board Chairman Scott Horton and Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz.

Both men worked with the town officials during the process and were pleased with how it ended.

“We made sure that we had plenty of public input, which we found was very helpful,” Horton said. ” … It is the basis for all kinds of decisions that the town will be looking at in the future … To not have it basically puts us on hold.”

The town center will border routes 10 and 29A and will try to attract businesses into the town, which has seen it’s younger demographic dissipate over the years.

Supervisor Ralph Ottuso said town officials are noticing the age of town residents tends to be 55 and older, while it’s losing the 24- to 40-year-old crowd.

Horton also said that of 53 candidates in the Adirondack Mountains, Caroga Lake was one of the final two towns selected for assistance with its comprehensive plan.

Ottuso said the state believes that Caroga Lake has the area and the draw for a “nice recreational town” during any time of the year.

Horton stressed, however, that the plan isn’t the ultimate determining factor in the town.

“This is not the law,” Horton said. “It doesn’t tell you you have to do anything. It doesn’t tell you you don’t have to do anything. It’s a guide … We have to think about our future and go towards something.”

Mraz agreed that this is a loose plan, and that its main purpose is to establish a zoning plan.

He also spoke highly of the new plan and said the last thing the board would want to do is reject the plan after all the work that was put into developing it.

“You’re day-to-day decision making is not going to change,” he said. “I think you have a sound document here. It was worked on by people who care deeply about this town.”

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