PRESERVATION UNDER PRESSURE
Protecting historic community character in a time of change
Conference review by Blanche Rubin here
STONE BRIDGE ON HOLLOW ROAD CONTROVERSY
residents and the County Department of Public Works see a new bridge a little
HOLLOW DEVELOPMENT THWARTED ON SCHOOLHOUSE ROAD:
lessons we learned over the past year...story
THE 14/18 INTERSECTION CONTROVERSY here
DOUBLE D UPDATES AND INFORMATION here
SERENITY HILLS UPDATES AND INFORMATION here
Town of Clinton Planning Board adopted a Master Plan in 1991. This
Plan reviews the status of Clinton’s community
values (from a survey of town residents), history,
natural resources, population and economic profile, housing, community
facilities, transportation, and existing
land use. The Plan includes 74 different recommendations for
how Clinton should take action to preserve its rural and historic
While some of these recommendations have been enacted, many—and
many of the most significant—have not. Specifically, while the
town has encouraged landowners to preserve resources, it has not adopted
tools or implemented strategies to proactively protect and preserve
Clinton’s unique resources and character.
This is not an issue of enforcement of existing regulations. The town
needs to implement the Master Plan through a process of
(a) adopting the necessary tools to allow the Town to actively protect
and preserve Clinton,
(b) prioritizing the environmental, historical, and rural resources
for protection, and
(c) enacting legislation or ordinances to achieve these ends.
Below are some of the highlights of the Master Plan. Links will take
you to the original document. You can also download it as a PDF file.
The 450 survey respondents (representing 32% of those who were mailed
surveys) was deemed a representative sample of the general population.
About 39% of respondents had lived in Clinton for 15 years or longer.
In general respondents supported only limited changes to their community.
The Plan states: “Preservation of the town’s historic
character and natural elements was the strongest sentiment, and while
townspeople did not see the need for more government services, they
do appear to favor an active approach to land use control and planning”
91% agreed that Clinton’s natural beauty and rural atmosphere
(90%) were its greatest assets.
87% agreed that Clinton’s hamlets are important to the character
of the town and 88% agreed that their historic character should be
protected from incompatible development.
92% agreed that as development occurs, regulation should protect wildlife,
prime agricultural soils (88%), wetlands (86%) and water resources
The Master Plan states: “Unless the town enacts protection measures,
the development pressures so evident in Clinton and the surrounding
communities threaten to irreparably alter the historic and scenic
character that is so valued by residents” (p.26). Specific steps
that were recommended to be taken included:
Continuing the historic survey process resulting in nomination of
eligible buildings to the National Register of Historic Places
Designation of districts in the hamlet centers “that are so
crucial to Clinton’s identity”
Official town recognition of local landmarks
The Master Plan makes 74 recommendations. We include here only highlights
pertaining to preservation of the rural, historic, and aesthetic character
of Clinton. Links will take you to the full set of recommendations.
Goal: To preserve the character of the town
and enhance the sense of community among Clinton’s residents
A committee should be appointed at least every five years after adoption
to review and recommend amendments to this plan in conjunction with
follow-up surveys and/or resident forums on current planning issues.
The town should maintain adequate land use and planning regulations
Goal: To identify, protect, and restore Clinton’s historic buildings,
sites, and roadside cultural features. (2.1-2.9)
The Critical Environmental Area status of the seven historic hamlets
should be used to thoroughly review the environmental and historic
impacts of development decisions
The town should develop guidelines to insure that new development
does not detract from the setting, scale, and design of surrounding
architecture and landscape features.
Goal: To preserve the natural resource base
on which the quality of life in Clinton depends. (3.1-3.11)
The town should discourage the development and encourage protection
of 100-year floodplains, wetlands, surface waters, slopes over 15
percent, and ridgelines to ensure minimal disruption of their environmental
function and scenic qualities.
Land use policies and regulations should provide for densities which
are compatible with the soils’ ability to support development,
while protecting prime and important agricultural soils
The town should identify and protect its scenic resources, including
open space views and vistas.
Reduced assessments, development plan trade-offs, government purchase
of development rights, and other similar approaches should be encouraged
to allow desired natural resource protection.
Goal: To allow economic opportunities that are
consistent with the primarily rural, residential character of the
Goal: To provide a broader range of housing sizes and types in appropriate
locations for all Clinton’s residents, including young people,
the elderly, and households earning less than the median income. (5.1-5.10)
Goal: To provide municipal facilities and services that will meet
the residents’ basic needs and improve opportunities for community
Goal: To provide a safe and efficient transportation system, while
preserving the town’s scenic an historic roadside features.
Goal: To promote a pattern of land use that reinforces the community’s
hamlets and preserves the town’s natural resources and rural
A community design plan should be developed for all of Clinton’s
historic hamlets to recommend landscaping, parking, circulation, sign
and public space improvements, with suggestions for the enhancement
of historic buildings and the use of vacant land in the area.
To preserve open space and agricultural lands, the town should promote
such techniques as the use of conservation easements, purchase of
development rights and tax incentives for the maintenance of open
The town should take full advantage of the State Environmental Quality
Review Act as a means to obtain detailed information on the environmental
and community impacts of proposed development, make potential concerns
open to public comment, and consider project alternatives.
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