Town of Elma
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN NOTES
Plan Prepared by Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers
- preserve the community character
- encourage orderly growth and development
- preserve and promote recreational opportunities
- provide for economic development
- protect significant environmental resources
- minimize the loss of remaining prime farmland soils to development
- provide a safe and efficient transportation system
Expanded Elma Goals & Objectives
- promote preservation and re-use of culturally and historically significant structures, such as the building that currently houses the Town Hall
- seek to boost community pride and promote a focus on property maintenance
- coordinate industrial development with Rte 400 and the railroad line
- investigate the potential for an industrial incubator to promote new business and entrepreneurial development
- provide for a more pedestrian friendly roadway system by providing wider and safe right-of-way areas
Most recent efforts for region (in terms of any type of Comprehensive Plan or study):
- Elma Comprehensive Plans in 1965 and 1983, and updated the plan in 1994.
Findings and Recommendations
- Elma, EA and Aurora would be considered second ring suburban communities (transition between first ring of suburbs and rural), and Wales and Holland rural communities.
- Elma and Aurora are now beginning to come under direct growth pressures from the expanding growth ring around the City of Buffalo (demonstrated by higher growth rates of these two communities)
- Elma under development pressures from Towns of Lancaster, West Seneca and Orchard Park.
- Elma: spillover traffic from Lancaster and along Transit Road
Summarized Needs/Desires of Elma
- residents generally very satisfied with community and want to preserve its character
- residential growth should be controlled at a low density, and commercial and industrial growth should occur in existing targeted areas.
- residents support preserving important open space features of Town
- residents feel existing services in Town are good, and need to be maintained as such.
- there is a concern over change to the community, as they watch what is going on around them in adjacent, more suburbanized communities.
Zoning Issues in Communities
- Elma: The town's creative subdivision requirements typically result in large lot development. The perception may be that this controls the growth within the Town. However, some would argue that this approach does not creatively control growth, it just encourages sprawl by promoting lower density and a greater consumption of land area.
Preserving Community Character: Elma Recommendations
- Elma is the most suburbanized of the 4 towns in the regional plan area
- major issues: limiting future sewer line extensions and preserving remaining agricultural uses and prime farm soils
- implement non-traditional development techniques, such as open development areas, overlay districts and cluster development, and adopt rural development guidelines, to control growth, manage sprawl and preserve open space. Include limitations on usage and design guidelines.
- future sewer line extensions should be controlled to manage growth
- protect remaining important areas of farmland and prime farm soils through conservation easements, etc.
- creation of a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program (PACE) for agricultural lands should be considered.
- identify lands for open space preservation and protection.
- adopt architectural guidelines
- present zoning and density requirements, combined with the objectives of the vision map, should help in controlling the growth in the Town to levels that will not require major roadway improvements.
Management of Future Growth and Development: Elma Recommendations
- further sewer extensions should only be considered for commercial/industrial uses Jamison Road corridor, or within existing sewer districts. Top priority: industrial uses in the vicinity of Rte 400 and existing light manufacturing uses
- limit large scale development to northern Transit Road area
- continue commercial zoning that exists around the Maple St exit of Rte 400, but evaluate to target appropriate uses and include aesthetic and improved design standards. (create a new zoning category or design a zoning overlay district that would allow uses different from what is permitted along Transit Road). Area should not present competition with Village businesses. Accommodate more transportation dependent uses and small businesses rather than full-scale commercial uses (supermarkets)
- control commercial development along Seneca St should also be controlled through a new commercial zoning category or a zoning overlay district specific to this area. Limit type and size of uses and structures.
- expansion of Elma Plaza should be permitted in a focused manner, with no commercial rezoning outside of this area. Area should be targeted for development as the Town center, with emphasis on improved biking and walking opportunities, and increased opportunities for commerce, convenience retail and public services.
- create rural cluster development regulations to address low-density residential clustering in non-sewered areas of Town.
- target additional lands for industrial development in Maple/Jamison Rd/Rte 400 area.
- areas around Aurora boundary near village should have improved non-automobile accessibility to the village.
- continue to enforce subdivision regulations
- establish zoning overlays along the three major creek corridors (Buffalo Creek, Pond Brook and Cazenovia Creek). Establish buffer areas, incorporate open space into designs, and requirements for access or conservation easements.
- consider zoning modifications in the Southwest corner & along eastern border of town. Area should be considered for an agricultural/conservation zoning category or a zoning overlay.
Economic Development: Elma Recommendations
- potential for economic development along existing industrial corridor that runs along Rte 400 expressway.
- area around Jamison Rd and Maple Rd exist on Rte 400 expressway should be reserved for industrial development
- any new retail development in Elma should be concentrated where existing retail is already located. (Elma Plaza area, Transit Rd, Seneca St in vicinity of Spring Brook hamlet, immediate vicinity of Maple Rd exit of Rte 400)
- area around Plaza should be developed as town center or more distinct hamlet-like area. Encourage retail development on a walkable scale
- additional commercial development could be accommodated at the Maple Rd exit of Rte 400, but balance with need for industrial land, no uses to compete with village business districts.
- could allow larger scale retail development on Transit Rd in northwest corner of Town. Recommend that large-scale retail uses be concentrated at northern end of Town only, and not be allowed south of Rte 16 intersection.
- smaller scale commercial and retail uses suitable for Seneca St (Rte 16), particularly in vicinity of Spring Brook. Avoid commercial sprawl and strip development
- investigate ways to support farms and preserve these lands as open space
Recreational Opportunities: Elma Recommendations
- community completed resident survey on recreational needs and adopted the Town of Elma Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Five-Year Plan in mid 1990s. based on this report, developed Elma Senior Center and adjacent park in 1997.
- overuse of Elma Town Park on Creek Rd is a problem
- surveys conducted by Town do not show support for purchase of additional parklands in Elma. However, residents are supportive of improving facilities at existing parks and increased passive recreational opportunities
- prepare an Open Space/Recreation plan to identify appropriate lands for future recreational use and/or environmental conservation; address demographic trends to accommodate needs of residents (youth and elderly)
- growing need and demand for additional sports fields. Investigate other Town facilities as potential sites for active recreation. Cooperative use of local school facilities should be explored
- Elma Town Park needs improvements: ball field is heavily utilized and becoming difficult to meet their demands. Suggestions: increased use of other facilities as well as site alternatives such as Wales Town Park
- property on Knabb/Handy Roads (owned by Town) is currently unimproved and could be developed with play fields and picnic areas.
- consider land behind senior center for recreational needs
- sites for public access to creek corridors should be identified and provided. Provide walkways
- improve roadway shoulders; link walking trails to important community facilities. Should be trail linking Knabb Road Park, Elma Village Green and Iroquois School facilities on Girdle Road. Additional linkage along creeks and to major resources in other towns (Knox State Park) should be explored
- utility easements should be examined as potential means of trail connections with Town and between other regional planning communities
- new residential development should include some provision for increased recreational demand. Where feasible, land should be provided within the development for rec. use.
- continue and possibly expand participation in EMW Sports and Tri-Town Recreation Programs
Community Vision: Elma Vision Components
- major features: rural nature of Town, with large areas of open space, some lingering agricultural uses, rural nature of existing development; Cazenovia Creek, Buffalo Creek and Pond Brook stream corridors; Rte 400; light industrial development in vicinity of major highway
- land that lies north of Buffalo Creek should have rural development guidelines, emphasis on preserving open space and rural nature, encouraging clustered development, open development areas (280A designs), other non-traditional development practices that do not promote sprawl. Area lacks sewer service. Discourage zoning changes that would permit standard subdivision designs with increased development densities.
- area near border with West Seneca, closer to Transit Rd and Rte 400, more suitable for mixture of land uses, including residential, small businesses and limited light industrial. Transit Rd should be only area in Town where larger scale commercial development should be permitted
- Seneca St: commercial uses should be neighborhood business type uses that service nearby residential uses, with denser development encouraged in and around Spring Brook hamlet. Reduce intensity of development further south and east along Seneca St, particularly around Knox State Park. Better manage how commercial development occurs along roadway to avoid sprawl and strip development.
- around Elma Plaza, proposed as long-term development as a town center. Elma lacks a distinct identifiable center where commerce and services are provided. Area along Bowen Rd, at Bullis Rd, provides such an opportunity. Encourage growth around this area. Hamlet area: along Bowen Rd, north from Woodward Rd to Clinton St, include plaza, Pond Brook apartment complex, historic Elma Village area. Between Clinton St and Bullis Rd would be designated as historically significant
- in surrounding hamlet growth transition area, rural residential development would be encouraged. Keep good soils and not allow large-scale development
- south of transition area: designated for light industrial/industrial development. Already supports number of industrial facilities and deemed suitable for continuance of such use. Area has access to Rte 400 and active railroad line.
- to west, along border of Orchard Park, area designated for resource protection. Contains significant creek corridor, important habitat (including a heron rookery) and rural open space. Protect from intense development to protect existing resources as well as provide buffer from development pressure that may arise in future from west
- north of EA, out to Rte 400, envisioned as village growth transition area. Could accommodate medium density residential uses that would support EA and provide transition from light industrial area in north
- area to east proximate to Marilla, contains significant open space, some farms and Buffalo Creek corridor. Preserve very rural nature. Provides transition of land use into Marilla and should be developed in a manner consistent with neighboring community. Protect from overdevelopment and intensive land uses
- develop a trail system to improve connectivity to other communities and enhance recreational opportunities in town.
Implementation: General Section
- first step is to designate an Advisory Committee as entity(s) responsible for implementation of document; establish biannual review to determine progress and continue to review and update plan
- Priority 1 Actions: should be completed first and are anticipated to take place in first two years after adoption
- Priority 2 Actions: can take place after a particular priority 1 action takes place or as the community desires in the years 1-5 after plan adoption.
- Priority 3 Actions: either long-term actions (those that may or may not be necessary depending on future scenarios) or are alternative ideas for certain priority 1 or 2 actions (that may not achieve desired results). Considered "Tool Box" actions
6.4 - Town of Elma Implementation
- Priority 1: adopt plan and advisory committee; establish annual budget for implementation of Regional Comprehensive Plan
* zoning issues: consider creating new commercial zoning district or zoning overlay
along Seneca St;
- overlay for Southwest corner of town, transit road corridor;
revision of subdivision regulations;
* other codes and regulations: create PACE program and approach agricultural
property owners for interest;
- adopt policy concerning sidewalks, curbing, street lighting for rural areas;
create Rural/Road Frontage Cluster Development regulations;
- reinforce requirements in subdivision regulations (zoning code) limiting major subdivision in A and B zones and restrictions due to percolator rates (poor soils);
+ investigate PACE program with other communities
* cooperative efforts: recreational planning coordinated with School District, EMW
Sports, other communities;
- all zoning and code revisions and large development projects should be referred to other regional planning communities for their input;
- set up Regional Open Space/Stream Corridor Preservation Committee;
- begin planning a regional transportation study;
- consider amending site plan review and subdivision regulations to allow for better review of transportation impacts to region (same for other communities);
- regional tourism committee should be investigated and formed
* other actions: septic system and well maintenance education programs;
- create plan for area of Elma Plaza (Town center concept);
- study and evaluate recreational needs of children and seniors of community;
- create plan for Creek Rd recreational facility and begin improvements
+ could utilize the University for possible design concepts for Town Center
- Priority 2 (years 3-5): complete comprehensive plan annual report and note Priority 1 options that have not been completed. Target and reprioritize those actions. Assess any subdivision and site plan activity that occurred in previous years to make sure it is compliant with Regional Comprehensive Plan. Evaluate impact of Priority 1 implementation items that were completed. Recommend Prior 2 items to be completed in upcoming year; establish annual budget for Regional Comprehensive Plan
*zoning issues: consider and possibly adopt zoning changes and/or creation of
zoning overlay for Elma Plaza area in accordance with Plan completed in Priority 1;
- new zoning category and/or adopt zoning overlay for commercial area around Maple Rd/Rte 400 interchange;
- creek protection overlay districts for all three major creeks;
- residential A and B zones should be revised to not allow commercial uses (even by special use permit);
- maybe new agricultural/conservation zoning district for area along eastern border, or overlay district;
- zoning overlay along Lancaster border to protect character
+ cost: 6K-10K (for assistance of consultant maybe, SEQRA stuff)
* other codes and regulations: consider creative/neo-traditional land use tools
(open development areas, rural development guidelines);
- amend subdivision regulations to better incorporate need for recreational lands in major subdivisions
* cooperative efforts: work with NY State Department of Environmental
Conservation and US Natural Reservation Conservation Service to design watershed
management strategies and best management practices for three creeks (include
public education element);
- regional farmland protection plan should be considered (see Aurora implementation section);
- have regional corridor/access management traffic study completed;
- work jointly with County, State and GBNRTC in accommodating pedestrian and bicycle access;
- investigate, through joint committee, ability to connect regional features through trail system. Public access to creeks should also be investigated in this study
+ planning costs: 15K-25K; implementation costs: unknown
+ funding: different organizations, some grants available for planning monies, but most would be for implementation (open space protection, public access, farmland protection, etc)
* other actions: ensure continued rail service through Elma community;
- evaluate effects of cooperative agricultural protection programs completed in Priority 1, evaluate or create PACE;
- begin evaluation of possibility of sewer extensions in industrial expansion area in Town;
- begin planning improvements for Town owned lands at Knabb and Hardy Roads. Evaluate passive recreation opportunities at lands behind senior center;
+ law changes or additions to laws require standard requirements for local laws, work with County in evaluating possible sewer extensions, capital expenditures will require the normal procedures to accomplish funding
+ general planning (and conceptual design work): 8K-12K, implementation (sewer extensions, park upgrades, public access): unknown
+ funding: grant programs available for utilization on parks and public access. Sewer components need to be coordinated with county, and costs can be paid for by development or through Town bonding (grand and low interest loan funds are available)
- Priority 3: sewer extensions should be considered in industrial area and if possible in Hamlet;
- adopt architectural guidelines to control quality of design in Town. Historic
preservation standards should be evaluated for areas containing structures of historical
significance. Design guidelines should also be adopted for non-residential standards;
- if major road corridor becomes adversely affected by increases in traffic,
consideration should be given to decreasing residential densities in that area;
- provide improvements for walking and biking opportunities in Elma Center area;
- expand commercial area in Elma Plaza;
- begin expansion (rezoning) of industrial zone as depicted in Vision Plan;
- consider agricultural/conservation zoning in southwestern portion of Town;
- consider amending Residential C zone to be based on densities (allow 3/4 to one-
acre lots, with overall density allowance of one unit per five acres, which would result
in certain amount of open lands that could be deed restricted for farming or
preservation); consider regional recreational facility (ice skating, pool);
- consider acting with surrounding communities in designating important stream
corridors as Critical Environmental Areas (CEAs);
- Provide trails to link Knabb Road Park, Elma Senior Center Park, Iroquois School
facilities and other features in town.
- Elma population growth numbers:
+ population growth increase of 9% between 1990 and 2000. Projections suggest town will grow by at least additional 15% over next two decades. Growth pressures from Town of Lancaster and other communities could push the rate higher.
+ rate of residential construction in Elma since 1990 has been steady, with average of 41 single-family units per year. All new housing has been single-family homes.
+ support for directing growth toward areas of Town deemed suitable for development, based on available services and avoiding areas with environmental constrains
GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Aquifier - an underground source of water that lies within or between water bearing layers of permeable rock, sand or gravel.
Agricultural Preservation - a variety of techniques employed to help support farming as an economic activity and farmland as a land use.
Central Business District - the area of the Village or a hamlet, consisting of retail, commercial, institutional and public service establishments, that functions as the primary location for commerce
Clustered Development - Clustered Development is a design technique for development projects that concentrates residential buildings in specific areas on a site to allow the remaining land to be set aside for recreation, common open space or environmental preservation. This is done by allowing housing to be constructed on smaller lots as long as the original density (the number of houses that can be built as-of-right on the property under the existing zone) does not change.
Conservation Easements - Conservation Easements are a legal means of controlling development on a particular parcel in order to preserve open space. Lands subject to Conservation Easements have controls or regulations limiting development.
Corridor (stream, scenic, open space, habitat) - a connection linking open space, wildlife habitats or other environmental features.
Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) - The Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council is the interagency planning group that establishes transportation policies and programs for Erie and Niagara Counties. In 1975, the GBNRTC (which was known as the NFTC - Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee) was designated the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) responsible for transportation planning in these counties. The organization provides a regional decision-making forum for the development of a multi-modal integrated transportation system that best serves the Niagara Frontier.
Housing Stock - the overall supply of housing in an area, including all sizes and styles of residential development.
Hydric Soils - soils are considered to be hydric if they are saturated, flooded or impounded long enough during the growing season to develop low oxygen levels and changeable chemical conditions in the upper layer. These soils are very poorly drained and have a high probability of containing wetlands.
Infrastructure - the underlying framework of public works systems that includes sewers, water lines, roadways, drainage piping and other utility service systems.
Level of Service - this term refers to a measurement of the amount of automobile traffic on roadways. Level of Service or LOS, as defined in NFTC 2010 Transportation System Plan, is a qualitiative measure describing the operational conditions within a stream of traffic. It is a means of quantifying or "grading" the operational quality of service provided by a roadways facility (NFTC, December 1994). LOS employs a rating system of "A" through "F", with "A" representing the best conditions with minimal delays and "F" representing failing conditions with extensive congestion.
Neo-Urbanist Concepts - Neo-urbanist, or neo-traditional, planning concepts emphasize mixed-use development reminiscent of traditional "small-town" type development. Traditional grid street patterns are preferred. Additional design standards typically found in neo-urbanist plans include smaller building setbacks so that buildings create a street-line, use of public buildings or parks as focal points in design, and pedestrian-friendly features, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, benches and street trees.
Overlay District - an overlay district is created by identifying an area on a municipality's Zoning Map and specifying additional regulations to supplement the underlying zoning regulations. The underlying zoning of the area does not change. Rather, additional restrictions are overlain onto the district. When development is proposed within the boundaries of an overlay district, the developer must comply with the requirements of the existing zoning district and the overlay district.
Passive Recreation - passive recreation involves non-strenuous activities such as picnicking, bird watching, casual walking and scenic viewing.
Planned Unit Development (PUD) - Planned Unit Developments (PUD) allow the mixing of commercial, industrial and residential uses on a single property. Typically zoning does not allow mixing uses, but this technique allows for a more creative site plan, subject to municipal approval. The usual use of PUDs is the creation of a planned community, with a proper mix of uses and layout. If they are allowed within a municipality, the Code specifies the minimum size of a PUD (acreage), and the requirements that must be followed. It must be understood that this zoning category is not an "open approval" to all uses. A plan must be submitted and approved by municipal authorities. A subcategory of PUDs is the Planned Residential District, or PRD. In this zoning category only residential uses are allowed, but there is greater leeway in the mixing of housing types (single-family, duplexes, apartments, condos, etc.).
Subdivision - The division of any parcel of land into two or more lots for immediate sale or development with or without streets or highways.
Transfer of Development Rights - This is a legal mechanism for preserving land and open space, by allowing denser development elsewhere within the municipality. In the areas identified for protection, the "development rights" can be sold or transferred to a receiving area, where denser development is appropriate. The area that purchased the development rights is allowed increased density (more units per acre, for example). In exchange, development is prohibited in the area selling the development rights.
Wetlands - those areas which are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency of duration sufficient to support, or that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands include bogs, swamps, marshes, cattail ponds, wet forests and meadows. These areas may not be wet or covered by water throughout the year.
Zoning Districts - In a municipality there exists zoning which tells you what can be built on the property (the use), and how it shall be built on the land (bulk requirements including size, height, etc.). Each zoning district has specific regulations regarding uses and bulk that must be followed. The zoning districts are identified through a zoning map that depicts where the boundaries of the zoning district exist.