The Examiner

Mt. Pleasant Kicks Off First Comp Plan Update Meeting

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Mount Pleasant Director of Planning Pat Cleary addressed residents during the Envision Mount Pleasant meeting held last Wednesday at the town’s Community Center in Valhalla.

Mount Pleasant Director of Planning Pat Cleary and about 140 town residents packed the Community Center in Valhalla last Wednesday to begin the process of the town’s first Comprehensive Plan update in nearly 50 years.

The Envision Mount Pleasant meeting is the first in a series of public forums that will be scheduled in the coming months to gather residents’ input on what an updated plan would entail.

The nine-member volunteer Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, appointed by the Town Board in March, is assisting the town’s team of consultants. The consultants are Cleary Consulting, the Pace University Land Use Law Center, Sullivan Architecture and Adler Consulting.

Cleary said the town needs to explore potential land use changes because of current trends, such as emphasizing downtown hamlets and the move away from corporate office parks. The town must also address the proposed North 60 biotech development in the plan. It must also set goals for the next generation, Cleary said.

Among the topics to be addressed in an updated Comprehensive Plan will be the demographic profile of the town, zoning, transportation and infrastructure, he said. The 24.1-square-mile town has 26,595 residents, with 44.7 percent between 35 and 64 years old.

Tiffany Zezula, deputy director at the Pace Land Use Law Center and a public engagement specialist, told residents that their ideas would be applied to the update process.

Residents divided themselves into groups to discuss broad topics such as economy, mobility, community, culture and education, natural resources and open space and sustainability and resiliency. There were three 30-minute sessions, with participants rotating to provide their opinions on three topics each. A facilitator oversaw each station.

Each group discussed the town’s pros and cons relating to each topic. For example, some of the positive comments regarding Mount Pleasant’s economy were how services were properly provided by town government, the strong employment opportunities and that new small businesses have been attracted to Mount Pleasant.

Economic challenges facing the town include a parking shortage in downtown Valhalla; the impact new development would have on the local schools; lack of housing for seniors who want to downsize but stay in town; road conditions and the need for more paving; and the need for additional parking at the town’s Metro-North stations.

Economic goals should emphasize filling vacant office space, assuring better building code enforcement and streamlining the development application process.

Discussion on community, culture and education listed positives such as the Mount Pleasant Public Library; clubs for senior citizens; the volunteer fire departments; Kensico Dam Plaza, the Westchester Medical Center complex and the main Westchester Community College campus.

Challenges include safety in local schools, increased elementary school enrollment and the absence of a farmers market.

Among the suggested strategies for improvement were for corporations to provide more open space and playing fields, additional security at the local high schools and having the Valhalla and Mount Pleasant school districts share more services.

Zezula said residents’ comments from last week would be compiled and listed on the town’s website. Additional meetings would be held to seek additional public input, she said.

No timeline has been set by the Town Board to complete the update. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months to finish, Zezula said.

Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said he looks forward to see how the revised plan will help the town’s future.

“Let’s leave Mount Pleasant better than we found it,” Fulgenzi said.

No date was announced for the next meeting. The plan is to hold at least three public outreach meetings over the next 12 months.

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