Grand Island needs an updated master plan

 

BY NATE MCMURRAY

Many developers – eager to sink their teeth into Grand Island – have visited me over the last year asking questions and chatting me up while drooling over maps and blueprints.

To some pitching apartments, I have been less than hospitable.

Developers are already here  

There are a few large developments that were put into motion and approved before I came into office by the previous Supervisor and Town Board.

Here is a synopsis of three major projects that were long in the works.

Heron Pointe Project – across from Dunkin’ Donuts

Nine 8-unit buildings are under construction. Four 8-unit buildings should be ready to occupy by the end of the year. The second 26-unit building was started last week, plus a rec center. This means hundreds of new units (232) will soon be complete and occupied.

Gun Creek (Whitehaven Rd.)

Phase 1 plan shows 19 Single Family Lots with multiple phases planned.  Road and utilities being installed at this time.

Elderwood Independent Living Facility (Grand Island Blvd.-North of Bedell Rd.)

Three new buildings – all three stories, one with 54 units, one with 16 units and a rec center and one with 30 units are all on their way.

We need a Master Plan to stop bad growth

Let me say very clearly; I do not want any more apartment complexes.

Grand Island should never become Amherst light. I’m against big box stores too.

I want Grand Island to stay a unique, small town forever.

I want to enhance our standard of living through recreational development, local agriculture, and eco-tourism. I will support projects that make sense to achieve those goals.

But the building of endless new apartment complexes (like some local leaders have wanted and encouraged) is not a solution; it’s a problem.

Even if there was some advantage to endless development, our infrastructure (or lack thereof) cannot accommodate large-scale growth, not to mention our schools being unable to accommodate flocks of more kids.

After all, we are an Island.

Until we have an updated Master Plan—which rethinks previous zoning mistakes—we will legally have little power to stop or control development.

Do you know that, previously, the Town’s zoning laws were changed to encourage apartments at the center of town and along our waterfront?

A Master Plan is not about encouraging growth. It’s about controlling it. It’s about preserving our forests and understanding our assets and our needs. Finally, it’s about preventing outside developers from making a buck building horrible developments that will fade, which we do not need—and then running off to their next victim.

We are now working on such a plan. We have not had an updated one in years.

Our lack of legal protection is what led to the bulldozer invasion.

The Master Plan is something we are creating to preserve and enhance what Grand Island IS, and should always remain: a beautiful, unique, small town.

In 2017, we will complete the Master Plan.

Nate McMurray is the Supervisor of the Town of Grand Island. 

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