WESTPORT - Two meetings will be held at the Westport Town Hall this upcoming week to discuss the possible expansion of Westport's hamlets.
"Hamlet" is the least restrictive land use designation in the Adirondack Park, and is generally reserved for the most dense population centers. Expanding the borders of a hamlet requires extensive review by and approval of the Adirondack Park Agency.
In Westport, however, a serious effort is being made to develop a plan for needed growth.
As Supervisor Dan Connell explained, the town established a Blue Ribbon committee in 2006, a group that has since done a significant amount of research to determine where expansion of the hamlet of Westport might be feasible.
The process of hamlet expansion started, said Connell, due to growing concern about the need for affordable housing in Westport.
"If we have some property in the existing hamlet or beyond the existing hamlet that we can develop, maybe some of that development would be more affordable to working families," he said.
A $50,000 planning grant allowed the town to hire consulting firm Saratoga Associates to expand on that research, developing a more detailed plan for how property in the expanded hamlet could potentially be developed.
Saratoga Associates will be present their preliminary ideas in an informational meeting Wednesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.
"This piece is designed to propose to property owners who might have some property that could be subdivided," said Connell, noting how the firm will suggest ways to increase the value of land brought into the hamlet.
"We're not telling anybody what to do with their property," said Connell. "It's just giving the property owners some ideas to think about."
The meeting will also give those owners a chance to provide their feedback on the initial findings.
Another meeting, to be held 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22, will serve as a public hearing regarding a proposed map amendment that would expand Westport's other hamlet, Wadhams.
The Adirondack Park Agency will conduct the public hearing, which is in regards to a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that proposes adding as much as 21 acres along the south side of State Route 22 to the Wadhams hamlet.
Wadhams resident Darlene Kahler Gough submitted a request for the map amendment claiming her property and the area surrounding it - designated as strictly-regulated resource management land - would be more correctly defined as hamlet.
Gough mentioned in her request how her 2.07 acre property is the largest among 13 residential parcels, all serviced by public water and sewer, in the proposed area, which also includes a cemetery, a playground, and a wastewater treatment facility.
Connell described the Wadhams expansion as a correction of the map the town submitted to the Adirondack Park Agency years ago. He contends there was an error at some point where the borders of the hamlet were incorrectly redrawn.
"All of the houses in Wadhams on [that] side of Route 22 are in resource management," he said. "They should have been in the hamlet. All that will really do is classify it as it was and as it is now."