'A historic evening'
Council approves comprehensive plan
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
By Frederic Pierce, Staff writer
It's official: The city of Syracuse knows what it wants to be when it
The Syracuse Common Council Monday unanimously approved the city's first
comprehensive plan since 1919. The vote established a broad vision for
Syracuse that was years in the making and kicked off an effort to develop
the details needed to mesh the plan with reality.
"This plan represents the culmination of more than seven years of work by
many groups of diverse citizens," said Councilor-at-Large Van Robinson, the
project's driving force. "This is the first comprehensive plan for Syracuse
in 85 years, and this is a historic evening."
About 40 people braved the weather to witness this history during an
evening meeting at City Hall. Fourteen of them rose to speak before the
vote. All of them endorsed the plan as a great first step, even though
several warned it remained incomplete.
"The plan still does need quite a bit of work," said Mike Stanton of the
Preservation Association of Central New York. "It needs content put into it.
It needs the neighborhoods defined. If we stop now, we won't have a real
One speaker, Syracuse architect Bob Haley, suggested a more accurate name
for the telephone-book-sized document might be "conceptual plan," because it
does not contain extensive details on things such as zoning and building
The plan's designers Monday freely acknowledged this. They see the
project as setting a broad vision for the city and its neighborhoods. It
then takes that vision and develops a set of policies, goals and recommended
Laying out the specifics of a neighborhood's future, developing workable
zoning guidelines, recommending detailed public projects or finding the
investment needed to pay for it all could take until 2007, according to the
The document calls for the creation of a land-use plan, area master plans
and individual neighborhood plans - many of which exist - to be developed
from the bottom up and incorporated into a citywide zoning update.
The key to making sure the plan is effective will be constant monitoring
and enforcement, Robinson said.
That's likely to require the re-establishment of a potentially expensive
city planning department, he acknowledged. The city shares planning staff
with Onondaga County.
"This is just the beginning of a full-fledged program to carry us through
for the next 30, 40 or 50 years," Robinson said.
The plan was developed by a committee of local professionals and
community representatives, assisted by Clough, Harbour & Associates, which
was paid about $150,000 for its services.
© 2005 The Post-Standard.