Town of Otsego

Otsego County

State of New York










          SECTION TWO:          INTRODUCTION








          SECTION SIX:             ENVIRONMENT


          Section One:  Enactment, Title, and Purpose


          Section 1.1  Enactment:  The Planning Board of the Town of Otsego in the County of Otsego on this 14th day of April 1987, under the authority of Section 272a of Article 16 of Chapter 62 of the Consolidated Laws of the State of New York, hereby adopts the following Master Plan for the Town of Otsego.


          Section 1.2 Title:  This document shall be known as the Town of Otsego Master Plan.


          Section 1.3  Purposes in View:  This Master Plan is intended to summarize the natural and historic assets of the Town of Otsego, to define itsessentially rural residential and agricultural character, to provide guidelines for the preservation of the Town's natural and historic assets in a manner compatible  with orderly economic growth and to provide a basis for a detailed Land Use Ordinance to guide the future development of the Town.

          Section Two:  Introduction


          Section 2.1 The Town of Otsego:  The Town of Otsego has a national and international reputation by virtue of its natural beauty, its historical character (Cooperstown and Leatherstocking Country), and its physical and cultural resources (including the New York State Historical Association, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Farmers' Museum, and Bassett Hospital).  Thousands of visitors come to the Town every year, and many find it an attractive place to live.


          Section 2.2  Pressures on the Town:  The Town of Otsego's natural and historic assets are fragile resources.  As in other nearby attractive areas (Lake George, Saratoga Springs, the Catskills), the influx of visitors and new residents threatens the very qualities that make it a special place.  Without effective regulation of land use through local control, and taking into account the Town's special qualities, growth is likely to occur in an indiscriminate, haphazard manner, marring natural beauty, diminishing historical character, straining local resources, and polluting the environment.  As growth occurs, measures must be taken to maintain air, water, and soil quality, to insure proper waste disposal, to minimize traffic hazards and congestion, and to protect historic and esthetic values.


          Section 2.3  Property values:  Further, the Town of Otsego is an economic resource, especially to its property owners.  Indiscriminate development, by  damaging the environment and lowering the quality of life, is a direct threat to property value.  New residential and commercial projects  can increase congestion, crowd the schools, stress the environment, raise taxes, and make the area less rather than more attractive.  An aim of an effective Land Use Ordinance--one that balances personal freedom with community responsibility--is to protect property values while maintaining reasonable tax rates.


          Section Three:  The Town and the Village of Cooperstown


          Section 3.1   The Village of Cooperstown:  The focal point of the Town of Otsego is Cooperstown, an incorporated village, most of which is located within the Town.  Cooperstown has adopted its own zoning ordinance.  The Town of Otsego Master Plan and any ordinance based upon it will not specifically address the uses and development of land within the Village of Cooperstown.


          Section 3.2  Importance of the Village to the Town:  Residents of the Town of Otsego will, for the foreseeable future, depend heavily upon the Village of Cooperstown

for essential facilities and services and, in many cases, economic health.  The facilities and services located within the Village include schools, health care facilities, places of worship, retail stores, banks, professional services, recreational and cultural activities, and places of business and employment.  In addition, a large proportion of the tourists and visitors coming to the Town of Otsego are attracted by facilities located within the Village of Cooperstown.


          Section 3.3  Pressures from the Village:  A variety of businesses in the Town, outside the Village, depend on the tourist trade.  Since there is limited potential for expansion within the Village of Cooperstown, increasing pressures for development in the Town  of Otsego for both commercial and residential purposes seem to be inevitable.  Locations especially sensitive to such pressures include the areas along Route 28 south and west of the Village, and Route 80 north of the Village.  The patterns of development in these areas require special attention in order to minimize pollution of ground and surface water, traffic congestion, and visual blight.


          Section Four:  Population Density and Land Use


          Section 4.1  Density:  Part of the essential character of the Town outside the Village of Cooperstown is its relatively low density of population ( approximately 75 persons/square mile/1980 census).  Density can be regulated directly by establishing minimum allowable individual lot sizes, and indirectly by other devices such as transferred developments rights (TDRs), and lot size averaging within a parcel to maintain desirable population densities.


          Section 4.2 Land Use:  Wherever possible, existing patterns of land use in hamlets and rural areas should be respected to preserve the integrity of the Town.  For example, land removed from use as farmland or woodland cannot easily be returned to such use.  Uses consistent with existing patterns should be encouraged when compatible with the characteristics of the land in terms of factors such as drainage, erosion control, water supply, sewage, waste disposal, and accessibility.


          Section 4.3 Special Regulations:  Land use regulations should protect the historical and natural character of the Town through sign regulation; recognition of historical districts, buildings, and uses; protection of scenic vistas; screening around unsightly commercial and industrial lots; etc.  These aims can be achieved by admitting commercial, institutional, and multi-residential uses through a Planned Development Unit (PDU) process under strict local control designed to protect the essential character of the area in which any such use is proposed.  A sense of historic and esthetic continuity is maintained by the use of traditional styles and materials, by the adaptation or renovation of existing older buildings, and by the preservation of natural features such as woodlands, cultivated fields, and pastures.


          Section 4.4 Public Spaces:  There exists at present no publicly owned recreational or open land in the Town of Otsego (with the exception of Three Mile Point).  Acquisition of or interest in such land should be encouraged.



          Section Five:  Transportation


          Section 5.1  Roads:  The Town of Otsego is presently served by a network of State, County, and Town roads appropriate to its geography and rural character.  These roads provide access to all areas of the Town.   This network,  if suitably maintained and improved, should be adequate for the needs of the Town for the foreseeable future.


          Section 5.2 Congestion:  Numerous Town  roads, especially those which traverse steep terrain, are not suitable for handling the traffic flow associated with intensive development.  Low handling the densities should be maintained in areas served by such roads to minimize traffic congestion and hazardous driving conditions.


          Section 5.3 Strip Development:  Strip development along the major arteries in the Town, in addition to creating traffic hazards and congestion, could seriously diminish the attractiveness of the Town.  Therefore, commercial and industrial and multiunit residential development along the highways should be restricted to clusters interspersed with low density, residential, agricultural and conservation areas.

          Section Six:  Environment and Public Health


          Section 6.1  Introduction:  A major objective of the Town of Otsego should be to maintain the natural environment so that it may be used and enjoyed by all the citizens of the Town.  Residents and visitors have the right to a clean and safe environment.  The cost of cleaning contaminated water, air, or soil is many times greater than the cost of keeping the environment clean from the start.  Some contaminants cannot be removed from the water or soil at all.  The cost of preventing pollution should be borne by the businesses, institutions, or individuals who generate it;  restoring a resource to a usable condition should not become the burden of the taxpayers.


          Section 6.2  Sewage Treatment Plant:  The Town does not now plan to build a municipal water supply or sewage treatment plant.  Such expensive public works should not be necessary as long as adequate on-site sewage disposal facilities and water systems are required.


          Section 6.3  Lot Sizes:  Lot sizes must be sufficient, given their soil types, to provide on-site sewage treatment and water supply for the proposed use in question.  The Land Use Ordinance must require enough land so that each lot can safely contain its own well and sewage disposal system without adversely impacting neighboring properties.  Poorly drained and impervious soils in many areas of the Town require larger lot sizes than would be necessary in locations with more favorable soil condition.


          Section 6.4  Otsego and Canadarago Lakes:  The Town of Otsego includes approximately ten miles of shoreline on Otsego and Canadarago Lakes.  In order to preserve and enhance these important assets,  the Town should adopt land use policies which ensure the water quality and recreational and scenic values of Otsego and Canadarago lakes.  Since Otsego Lake is the water supply for the Village of Cooperstown, special care must be taken to protect its purity.  Communication and cooperation with the other municipalities bordering these lakes should be encouraged to ensure uniform

and adequate regulations for water protection.
          Section 6.5  Erosion:  Erosion and siltation damage farmland and destroy habitats for fish and game.  A land use ordinance should stipulate practices designed to minimize runoff and erosion.  Building on steep slopes or clearcutting woodlands should be discouraged.


          Section 6.6  Wetlands:  Groundwater, streams, ponds, bogs, marches, swamps and other wetlands should be protected.


          Section 6.7 Discharges:  State and Federal laws prohibiting many kinds of discharges into surface and ground water or into the air are often inadequate for local conditions.  Local ordinances should prohibit pollution of water, air, or soil by toxic and noxious materials or conditions.  Enforcement and penalties should be local as well as State and Federal responsibilities.


          Section 6.8  Natural Features:  Valuable natural features including scenic vistas,  should be protected wherever possible.


          Section 6.9  Environmental Review:  All applications to the Town for approval of actions which have the potential for significant threats to the environment should be subject to thorough environmental review in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the New York State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act.