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By Douglas Sciorra

Comprehensive Plan work in Steuben County is key to future success

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Deputy County Manager Chris Brewer explains that this is a “plan in action”

Virtual Community Meeting planned for March 16

By Andrew Harris

When most people think of the term or process of “comprehensive planning,” they think of future plans, goals, targets.  Of course the process of creating a “Comp Plan,” is focused on the future, but as Deputy County Manager Chris Brewer is quick to point out:

“This planning is being implemented on the fly.  As we create this strategic plan and identify our needs, we’ve been able to implement and move forward quickly.”

Brewer points to the recent award of ARPA funds for high-speed internet installation in Steuben county as a perfect example of “on the fly.”  Broadband capacity has been, and was at the top of the list for the steering committee from the start of the process.  With $18.5 million dollars in American Rescue Plan money, the county was able to fast-track the broadband project and start laying fiber optic lines.  Steuben county has awarded $8 million dollars in broadband infrastructure and the committee is proud of that accomplishment, Brewer explains:

“Steuben County is a big place with many rural towns and villages that really need high-speed to succeed for economic development and other policy areas of the comprehensive plan.  The Legislature was able to really make a difference Monday while still in the process of planning for tomorrow.”

The steering committee is only as effective as the public it serves and direct participation from the public is necessary for future success.  Steuben County has set up a dedicated website to give the public information on meetings and encourage participation.

With a range of focuses in the plan, a wide range of experience and interest from the public is needed.  Industry leaders, business owners, entreprenuers, students, and county residents who understand the importance of this comprehensive plan are encouraged to make a difference and get involved.

There also will be a virtual meeting from 7-8 pm March 16, with residents invited to participate at

Here are the focus areas as defined by the steering committee:

Steuben County is working with the MRB Group on the “Comp Plan,” and the consulting group recently provided the county legislature with an overview of the planning progress. Read that full meeting report recently released by the county:

BATH – Public input on a comprehensive plan designed to develop future services during the next 15-20 years has focused, so far, on agriculture, boosting local business, improved transportation, Internet connectivity and housing, and emergency services according to Matt Sousa. the former Steuben County Planner and currently MRB Group Senior Associate Planner.

Sousa recently reported to the county Legislature on the six-month outreach by the county Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to county residents. The outreach has included an ongoing committee update and comment section on the county website, four two-hour public input sessions in February, and more opportunities in the near future.

The February public input sessions offered residents an opportunity to highlight issues in nine policy areas ranging from agriculture to transportation, he said.

The sessions showed interest across a wide range of topics with concentrated attention, thus far, toward:

  • Support agricultural workforce development.
  • Need more farmers markets, farm stands, and local produce.
  • Main street revitalization. Diversity in stores, local shops
  • Attract and support local businesses.
  • More transportation options and service expansion, including senior transportation.
  • Improved medical transportation, transit options for people with disabilities.
  • Need for Emergency Medical Services training.
  • Recruit and retain younger workers.
  • Need job training and continuing education in a variety of sectors.
  • Develop affordable housing.
  • Develop more senior housing.
  • Address property maintenance issues
  • Encourage competition amongst Internet providers.
  • Make Park resources more accessible.
  • Support existing trails and develop new ones. A sustainable but cautious development of renewable energy.
  • Review stormwater management practices county-wide, address agriculture runoff.

Upcoming input opportunities:

In a recent report to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, Sousa reported MRB’s concerted effort to urge responses from leaders in every town in the county through emails and phone calls has drawn replies from 16 municipalities. Local leaders also will have a chance to learn more at the Southern Tier Central Regional Leadership Conference scheduled for Apr. 6 at Corning Community College.

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