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Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board 2016 Annual Report Message from the Chair Donna L. Draxler As I conclude my second term as Chair of the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC), I am pleased that I could facilitate the partnership between STC and the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). The two organizations worked together in 2016 to include accredited local training directly targeting County Legislators as part of the annual STC Regional Leadership Conference. It was well attended and provided useful information; we hope to continue offering such classes in 2017. The STC board is a great example of regional teamwork, and our three counties benefit from the work we do together. I look forward to continuing the good work with my fellow board members.
Executive Director’s Report Marcia D. Weber Our agency, though relatively small, provides a significant range of services to our three counties. Planning, grantswriting, and training might be the most visible activities, since our staff works with local planning and zoning boards, supervises the Appalachian Regional Commission grant application process, and orchestrates the Regional Leadership Conference each year. STC’s Planning School also reaches local government officials with training about effective municipal planning and administration. STC developed a new 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) in 2016 in conjunction with economic development organizations in the region. The CEDS guides future development and focuses on actions that will improve economic conditions in the Southern Tier.
Other areas of expertise might be less well known but are equally valuable to local governments and agencies in our region. For example, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) assistance enables our counties and municipalities to efficiently manage and use map-based data, enabling the sharing of data and the ability to look up information while in the field.
Our Technology Coordinator provides information technology services to municipalities and agencies, assisting them with designing networks, purchasing equipment, and maintaining their systems. STC’s Flood Mitigation Specialist shares her expertise throughout the state and nationally, and she can explain the science of floods as well as the regulations needed to prevent disasters. STC works closely with the Southern Tier Network to bring high speed broadband service to the region.
New in 2016, the Clean Energy Communities Program provides guidance and technical assistance to communities pursuing grants for clean energy projects. Throughout this report you will see examples of the services this unique organization provided in 2016 to meet the specific needs of this region. We look forward to continuing to adapt and thrive along with our three counties.
Tom Tranter, Keynote Speaker at the 20th Regional Leadership Conference, describes the role of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.
Serving Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
Southern Tier Network
As a Local Development District of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), STC coordinates and assists with the ARC grant application process. The 2017 funding cycle was a local success, with several agricultural projects and a broadband infrastructure project that align very well with ARC’s general goals. The following projects were submitted to New York State and ARC for further review, with funding decisions expected by the summer of 2017.
The Southern Tier Network (STN) expanded in 2016, with construction underway in Broome and Tioga Counties. This expansion enables service providers to use the fiber optic backbone to expand competitive services throughout those counties and also for new service providers to reach Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties. The project will provide redundancy for emergency management services and allow interconnectivity of all 911 and emergency management centers throughout the service area (all counties mentioned above plus Yates County). Cornell and Binghamton Universities and Alfred College will be included in the expansion, gaining the bandwidth they need for their joint research and development. It will also allow them to connect with incubators in Alfred and Corning, a goal of the Innovation Hot Spot program.
Poverty Stoplight to help Chemung County participants move from poverty to empowered agents of personal and community change.
Modernization of Food Co-Packing and Training Facility to develop a job-training program that aligns with Schuyler County’s economic development needs and assists with skills needed to enter the workforce.
Equipment Installation to Light STN Fiber in Southern Tier Public Libraries making 100 Mbps (download and upload) broadband internet connectivity possible in 17 public libraries for developing economic, educational, and social opportunities.
Steuben Local Foods Development Project to pr omote economic growth for specialty crop farmers in Steuben County.
Local Agriculture and Land Use Leadership Institute to provide training that leads to an increase in the number of viable farms and food-related businesses in Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties. Planning in Water’s Way to pr ovide data, tools, and cost estimates needed to implement flood damage prevention activities that improve the region’s economic resilience.
Within the original three counties of Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben, the Southern Tier Network began working with the Southern Tier Library System to bring fiber to 17 libraries. This will provide rural areas with high speed broadband at their libraries, where it can be used by students for their research and homework, job-hunters for their searches and applications, and other residents for all possible uses. It is hoped that service providers will build off the libraries’ fiber to provide services to the homes in that region as well.
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy The STC Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which serves as the region’s economic development plan, was completely rewritten in 2016. The new format is shorter than previous strategies and includes more charts and graphs to illustrate economic data. The 2016 CEDS is a foundational economic development document based on conditions in the region and the results of other recent plans, such as the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council Strategy and the I-86 Innovation Corridor Plan.
Graph from the CEDS highlighting the availability of affordable single family houses, which may indicate an over-supply of low-end housing and possible code enforcement issues related to maintenance.
WATER RESOURCES / FLOOD ASSISTANCE Flood Policy Issues
Preparing for Future Floods
Because state and national policy decisions have a way of trickling down to affect local communities, STC staff monitors policy issues that can affect local flood risks and programs in STC communities. Relevant information is shared with local partners, and written recommendations are developed when warranted.
The land use and development decisions made by property owners and local governments can significantly affect the vulnerability to flooding, which is the highest priority natural hazard in the Southern Tier. Yet consideration of flood risks is often overshadowed by other concerns. STC helps communities focus on flood resiliency, improve safety, and reduce future damage by providing assistance to local governments, residents, and businesses. STC is wrapping up the Flood Resistant Communities project (funded by the NYS Department of State), which supported public education about flood risks, municipal training, support for comprehensive plan development, and assistance with local land use regulations.
National Flood Insurance Program: STC provides local information and assistance related to flood insurance, including purchase requirements and costs. Staff also assists with local participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) program, which enables flood insurance discounts in municipalities that implement and document activities designed to reduce flood damages. In 2016, STC helped five municipalities prepare for program verification, which required updating of local programs to meet new standards. As a leader of the New York Statewide CRS Users Group, STC staff was lead author of the group’s detailed suggestions for making the CRS program more accessible to New York communities. The national CRS Task Force reviewed this report and responded that some of the recommendations are being considered.
Federal Flood Risk Management Standard: STC was lead author of comments submitted to the public register by the New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association supporting improved flood resilience for federally funded projects and making suggestions regarding implementation of the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard by several agencies. The STC Flood Mitigation Specialist chairs the Public Policy Committee of the New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association and serves on the board of the Association of State Floodplain Managers (a national professional organization).
Local Water Resource Programs STC participates in and assists with local organizations engaged in protecting local water quality and mitigating the impacts of flooding. This includes Environmental Emergency Services (which provides flood warning support for Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties); the Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben County Water Quality Coordinating Committees; the Chemung County Stormwater Coalition; the Steuben County Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee; the Upper Susquehanna Conservation Alliance; and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition Stream Team.
With planning assistance from STC, the Towns of Big Flats and Southport are using Conservation Zones in the highest risk parts of the floodplain to support low intensity recreational and agricultural uses and prevent building construction.
Wrapping Up the Sustainable Keuka Lake Project The Sustainable Keuka Lake project has been a productive partnership between the Town of Wayne (applicant and key contractor), Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County, and STC (with funding from the NYS Department of State). Municipalities within the Keuka Lake watershed now have land use tools, studies, and guidance to help them protect the lake, enhance the quality of life, and attract tourists. Hundreds of municipal leaders received training. The Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA) is now moving forward to implement priorities for future projects. They are considering trail projects throughout the watershed and evaluating areas for public access to Keuka Lake.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING Providing Technical Planning Assistance STC contracts with six communities to provide technical planning assistance. This assistance can be for grant writing and administration, review of development projects, training of municipal boards, and other municipal needs. Some highlights from the past year include: Town of Caton: The Town of Caton saw one of the biggest developments they have had in some time. STC helped the Town Planning Board review an application for Waluska Auto Sales in the hamlet. The Planning Board successfully negotiated with the applicant to bring to fruition a nice development for their small town center. Town of Corning: Changes within the Town’s code office meant STC was able to provide stability and continuity for the incoming code enforcement officer. STC has the institutional knowledge to explain why local regulations were written a certain way and what the history of the Planning Board has been. Town of Big Flats: When the Town of Big Flats Planning Director left on short notice, STC was able to step in to assist with the transition, providing full staff support to the Planning Board for five months until the Town hired a long-term planning consultant. During this time, the Planning Board reviewed and helped refine several major projects that contribute to the economic development of the region, including the opening of the Emhart Glass facility and Corning Aviation’s hangar expansion (which is part of an initial phase of the Elmira Airport expansion and modernization).
Village of Addison: STC staff worked with the Village of Addison to close-out their 2011 NY Main Street grant and to train Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals members. Addison also began the process of updating their comprehensive plan. Village of Painted Post: The Village had a quiet year, which allowed the Planning Board to focus discussions on where future development should be and how to attract the right businesses for their Village. Village of Riverside: The Village of Riverside used their planning contract to supplement the comprehensive planning process.
Painted Post-Riverside Comprehensive Planning Project STC is helping the Villages of Painted Post and Riverside develop a “vision for the future,” write comprehensive plans, and update their zoning laws (with funding from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program). Village of Painted Post: The Village kicked off the “Painted Post: Looking Forward” comprehensive planning process by forming a committee, designing a survey tool, and administering the survey. Preliminary survey results were compiled and presented at a public meeting. Village of Riverside: The comprehensive planning committee (below) began work on a vision for “Plan 2035: Riverside” by developing a website, conducting a public survey, presenting survey results at a public meeting, and conducting focus group meetings.
STC worked with the Town of Big Flats to help applicants correctly follow the Town’s strict ridgeline overlay zone, which preserves the scenic vistas enjoyed by residents and those who pass through on I-86.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING “Cleaner, Greener Communities” in Schuyler County Schuyler County is fortunate to have rural landscapes and village centers that define a unique sense of place and make it a wonderful area to live, work, and visit. With grant funding through the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), STC helped communities find ways to enhance the local character while also addressing the challenges of energy use and conservation. In partnership with the Schuyler County Planning Department and individual municipalities, STC has been working to address the particular opportunities and challenges in each of the following municipalities while incorporating principles for smart growth, mixed-use development, active transportation, natural resource preservation, and farmland protection. Town of Catharine: The Town of Catharine adopted a new zoning law, subdivision law, and wastewater management law, each of which is now easier to understand and better meets the objectives of their comprehensive plan. Town of Dix: The Town of Dix updated their 2007 zoning law, based on nearly a year of work with a steering committee of town residents. This new zoning law incorporates appropriately located mixed-use and commercial development zones, simplifies the code by combining similar zones, and is easier for residents and developers to understand. Town of Reading: STC worked with the Town of Reading to write a new comprehensive plan that identifies new goals and addresses new challenges that have arisen since their last plan in 2004. The new plan reaffirms Reading’s assets as a rural community while also promoting strong economic opportunity. One of the needs identified in Reading’s comprehensive plan is to update their land use law; so even before the plan was finished, STC helped the Town hire a consultant and establish a steering committee to work on turning the existing land use law into a clearer, more helpful document. Village of Odessa: STC began working with the Village of Odessa to revise their zoning law, which is confusing to administer and limited by existing infrastructure constraints. The Village hopes to turn this zoning law into a streamlined guide that can accommodate future opportunities.
Village of Montour Falls: The Village of Montour Falls continued to work on a new comprehensive plan and began a full revision of their zoning code based on the draft comprehensive plan. Both the plan and the zoning update emphasize updated and enforceable design guidelines that make it possible to both preserve the quaint downtown and encourage business development. They also implement the Village’s strong desire to protect its natural resources and create a more walkable community. Guide to Environmental Planning: Building on the goals and implementation measures in the Schuyler County Comprehensive Plan, STC helped develop a guide to environmental planning in Schuyler County. Entitled “Sustaining Places,” it provides guidance for good planning practices to help municipalities address their specific planning goals with economically and environmentally sustainable methods. The guide includes strategies and technical recommendations that are appropriate for both rural towns and small villages.
HUMAN SERVICES County and Regional Human Services Committees Through the three county human services committees, STC gains a wealth of information about the state of the region and its residents. The committee members are from a wide range of human services agencies—health, child care, education, social services, housing, aging, youth, and more—and know the needs, challenges, and programs of the region. Their assistance in reviewing Appalachian Regional Commission grants through the Regional Human Services Committee strengthens the applications and improves their chances of being funded. The county committees provide necessary information to STC for targeting grants and advocating for the region.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE 20th Regional Leadership Conference For the twentieth time, STC held a Regional Leadership Conference at Corning Community College, providing targeted information, assistance, and training for local government officials and community leaders. The conference was a huge success, training a total of 334 municipal officials. The 2016 agenda included a new track aimed at County Legislators, which allowed attendees to earn credits toward a County Government Institute (CGI) certificate (sponsored by the New York State Association of Counties). STC was also successful in gaining involvement from new vendors and sponsors.
Ted Bennett, Chemung County Legislator and STC board member, promoted completion of Interstate 86 at the Regional Leadership Conference.
STC Planning School STC’s Planning School continues to provide local government training, with nine courses in 2016 covering topics from grant resources to email etiquette and the NYS Energy Code. Participants included 113 attendees representing 55 different communities and agencies. For any given class, about half of the attendees are “regulars” who clearly find value in the content of these courses.
Planning School “students” learn about software services to help with code enforcement and other municipal tasks.
Geographic Information Systems STC provides technical support for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computer mapping activities to enable efficient use of map-based data. STC GIS staff helped Chemung County create an enterprise GIS system with data from various departments. A portal was created to host applications used by County and municipal Map showing viewsheds as seen staff. Use of a centralized from Keuka Lake is a helpful database streamlines data reference for planning and land use changes and enables all decisions. applications to utilize current data. STC conducted training for county and municipal staff—not only on how to use applications—but also on how to create their own applications. STC GIS staff worked with the Chemung County Real Property Tax Services Agency to update their tax map printing application. The existing application had been created using a computer language that is no longer supported by updated GIS programs. Rather than re-programing each routine in a supported language, STC staff re-created the printing application within the GIS program so that it will continue to be supported by future versions of the software.
Computer Assistance STC provides local governments and the Southern Tier Network with a range of computer services to increase the effectiveness of their operations (partially subsidized by the Appalachian Regional Commission). Highlights of accomplishments included:
Transitioned workstations from Windows 7 to Windows 10
Maintained peer-to-peer and client server networks
Migrated client data from applications to different operating systems
Helped clients transition to new broadband providers
Resolved hundreds of day-to-day challenges
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
TRANSPORTATION Steuben County Transportation Study
NEW: Clean Energy Communities Program
STC welcomed Frank Vanca to fill the new role of Clean Energy Coordinator. Frank works with municipalities to access grant funding through the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority’s Clean Energy Communities Program.
Like many rural areas, Steuben County is a difficult place to get around without a car. The County is fortunate to have multiple bus systems and ride services, which are in better financial shape than many services in similar areas, but the area still faces challenges with routes, timetables, and fares that are not coordinated with each other or with major destinations and employers. STC, along with the Steuben County Planning Department and Steuben County Mobility Manager (and with funding from the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Assistance Program), began to conduct the firstever survey of all transportation resources in Steuben County, including formal transit agencies as well as community groups and other informal providers. The study will produce recommendations on how to improve mobility without significant new services or significant new costs by more efficiently using existing services, coordinating better among these services, and strengthening informal resources to cover gaps.
By completing four of ten “High Impact Actions,” participating communities become eligible to receive awards of up to $100,000 to be used toward a clean energy project. Eligibility criteria for this program are designed to showcase a municipality’s commitment to exploring renewables, gaining energy independence, and ultimately saving residents money.
Several STC communities have expressed interest in the program, and Frank is providing guidance and technical assistance to help communities pursue grants for clean energy projects.
Thousands of people each year ride one of six public transit systems in Steuben County or use one of the many formal and informal ride services. For many of them, in particular people working their way out of poverty and elderly residents, these transportation services are essential for getting to a job, a medical appointment, or just daily shopping.
2016 County Share Leveraged More Than $1.08 Million for the STC Region Other State Federal County
Local Share to STC
Federal, State, Other Grants to STC
Funds Secured by STC for the Region
2016 STC Board of Directors
Chair, Donna Draxler
Marcia D. Weber
Chair, Chemung County Legislature
Vice Chair, Joseph Hauryski
Chair, Steuben County Legislature
Philip Barnes, Schuyler County Legislator Kathryn Bartholomew, Environmental Representative Theodore Bennett, Chemung County Member At-Large Judy McKinney Cherry, Schuyler County Economic Dev. Amy Dlugos, Steuben County Planning Dennis Fagan, Chair, Schuyler County Legislature
Ernest Hartman, Labor Representative Shawn Hogan, Municipal Elected Official James Johnson, Commerce/Business Representative Steven Maio, Steuben County Legislator Kimberlee Middaugh, City of Elmira Manager* Robert Nichols, Agricultural Representative Timothy O’Hearn, Schuyler County Administrator Randy Olthof, Chemung County Planning Randy Reid, Small Business/Minority Representative Mark Ryckman, Municipal Representative Thomas Santulli, Chemung County Executive Thomas Sweet, Chemung County Legislator G. Thomas Tranter, Jr., Industrial Representative
Susan Cratsley Executive Assistant
Victoria Ehlen Economic Development Coordinator
Gabriel Holbrow Planner
Brittany McKerlie Accountant/Fiscal Officer
Chelsea Robertson Senior Planner
Kemberli Sargent* Planner
Janet Thigpen, CFM Flood Mitigation Specialist
Timothy Tostanoski Technology Coordinator
Frank Vanca Clean Energy Communities Coordinator *left during the year
Scott VanEtten, Steuben County Legislator Kristin VanHorn, Schuyler County Planning Jack Wheeler, Steuben County Manager * left during the year
Activities described in this report were funded in part by the following Federal and State agencies: Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, New York State Department of State, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act (administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, as well as contracts with local municipalities and organizations. STC is also grateful for matching funds from Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties.
Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board 8 Denison Parkway East, Suite 310 Corning, New York 14830 Phone: 607.962.5092 / Fax: 607.962.3400 Web Site: www.stcplanning.org Email: [email protected]