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Micron at the center of new Onondaga County comprehensive plan

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announces the county's community comprehensive plan on May 9.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announces the county's community comprehensive plan on May 9.

Onondaga County is proposing a new comprehensive plan that will drive development plans in central New York for years to come. As with most discussions swirling around central New York these days, Micron is in the middle of it.

Onondaga County has been trying to push forward a comprehensive plan for years. But it never really got anywhere.

"What’s different about other documents and this document, is because of the Micron opportunity, we can actually implement all of this, because there is an economic driver for all of this," said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

The plan focuses on five areas: strong community centers, housing and neighborhoods, mobility, greenways and blueways, and agriculture. McMahon said the plan promotes four densely packed town centers that have a downtown feel, in the county’s northern suburbs. There’s potential for light rail service or other transportation options, and expanded outdoor recreation opportunities, with connecting pathways and waterways.

To get this document on the books, the County Legislature will have to approve it. Clay Republican Deb Cody doesn’t expect any roadblocks, with a vote possible in July.

"It’s not a political issue, this is for the good of the county, I think everybody is or should be excited about the opportunities, about the possibilities," Cody said.

For local governments, it provides a blueprint for how to handle an estimated 100,000 people who could move to central New York as Micron gears up to produce semiconductor chips in a mega-chip facility in the town of Clay. Clay Supervisor Damian Ulatowski said the plan will help the town weave together the many development issues it's going to face.

"We do need growth and we do need development, and let’s do it in a way that’s going to complement where people live and not infringe on where they live," Ulatowski said.

In the end, McMahon said this plan allows central New Yorkers to think differently about the place they call home.

"For years, we really didn’t value what we had in this community, and we didn’t think big enough and we weren’t aspirational enough," McMahon said. "Now, hopefully, that’s changing."

Plan Onondaga, also called Plan On, is available for the public to review. It gets its first public airing at an Onondaga County planning board meeting May 17.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.