Public has a say in Route 54A corridor future

John Christensen
Matt Ingalls and Mary Coriale facilitate one of the “breakout groups” in the Rte. 54A Corridor planning meeting.

Their stated intent is “To preserve and enhance for future generations the Town of Jerusalem Scenic Corridor and natural resources through use of architecture and site design and zoning regulations to ensure the future development is reflective of the vision of the community as set forth in the current Town of Jerusalem Comprehensive Plan.”

The Jerusalem Planning board zoning review sub-committee, chaired by Mary Coriale, recently delivered on their promise to reach out for public input in the zoning changes for the proposed Rte. 54A Corridor by hosting a public input meeting June 7 at the Keuka College dining hall.

“We are not going to change any zoning without public input,” vowed Coriale last December. “With the right regulations, the area will allow growth, but look good. I hope people see the value in our work to protect property values, allow growth and to preserve the beauty of our area,” she added.

“We want to be pro-active, rather than re-active, said Coriale. Currently, she says, the area is zoned agricultural/residential. The town’s Ag./Res. zoning is very “loose,” and there is limited control as far as how something looks and how it will fit into an area, she says, explaining it is also quite restrictive on the growth of business. It must also be consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan, which the current code is not. The advent of the Finger Lakes Museum at the Keuka Lake State Park is yet another consideration for the plan.

Needing professional expertise, the 54A Corridor committee has hired Ingalls Planning and Design of Fairport. Consultant Matt Ingalls has advanced degrees in urban and regional planning and landscape architecture, and is certified by the American Institute of Urban Planners. Already working on the Branchport hamlet plan, one terminus of the corridor, his involvement with the 54A Corridor plan was deemed both logical and economical.

As Ingalls addressed the 30 or so attendees of the public meeting, he stressed that there is no plan yet. Both the committee and he want the community members’ ideas and responses before they go forward, not wanting to miss the mark of what the community wants.

Beginning with an explanation of modern hybrid zoning (mixed use), Ingalls explained that the goal of the new zoning is to be user-friendly, understandable, and “less don’t-do and more how-to.”

Next was an “Image Preference Survey” where 40 photographs were projected on a screen, and each scored from 1 to 10 by the participants as desireable or undesirable in style for the 54A Corridor, which stretches from the Village of Penn Yan to Branchport. They covered a wide range including farmland, gas stations, strip-malls, townhouses, suburban style developments, and main street style shops. These results will be tabulated and included in the planning.

The meeting was then divided into three break out groups each with a facilitator from the committee taking down their concerns and suggestions on flip charts. This gave the citizens an opportunity to make a more detailed individual contribution, as well as the chance to compare thinking. Ingalls circulated between the groups, alternately listening and answering questions.

The results of the public input will be made part of the preliminary plan to be presented this fall.

“We want 54A to remain beautiful for generations to come. It is an exciting time for our town. We are at a crossroads. If the rezoning is done right, there will be a perfect blend of business, residental living and farming,” Coriale says.

The Branchport hamlet committee will hold a similar meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, June 20 at the Branchport firehouse.

Jerusalem residents give their input to the Rte. 54A Corridor rezoning process.