ITHACA, N.Y. — Comprehensive plans are all the rage these days. The town of Ithaca did theirs in 2014, and the city of Ithaca published theirs last year, the first in 44 years. Now it’s the town of Lansing’s turn.

Town officials will present the draft 2016 plan to the general public at the town hall on 7 PM on the 10th. The Comprehensive Plan is two things – the data on what Lansing is now with things like demographics, housing costs and development patterns, and secondly, the thought process and conclusions on where it wants to be in terms of land use, economic activity, housing, and sustainability, among other things.

The town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee has been meeting for about four years to design the draft plan, which has dozens of co-authors, including many town officials and planning committee members. The comprehensive plan is designed to provide guidance for the next ten years, or about as long as the 2006 plan has been in effect.

Notably, the village of Lansing is not included in the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The village did their own plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees last December.

Compared to the 2006 plan, voters won’t find a huge amount of difference between the two sets of documents. The statistics show that Lansing is growing at a much faster rate than most of the county (42% vs 17% since 1980), but the average age is now much older. The median household income has grown 35.7% since 2000 (not inflation-adjusted), but the average value for a house went up 53.8% in the same time period – in other words, Lansing, like much of the county, has become less affordable.

With so much growth in Lansing, one of the goals is to try and direct development away from active agricultural land and prevent rural sprawl. The town also wants to work with landowners and developers to better connect streets and roads so that there aren’t so many dead-ends, and that it’s easier to travel between neighborhoods.

The plan also calls for focusing development near major employment clusters to promote walkability, and near the town hall, where 34 and 34B meet. In a big change from the previous plan, the committee suggests form-based zoning for the area, a type of zoning based on building appearance rather than building use. The town of Lansing worked with Cornell’s Design Connect program last fall to come up with suitable ideas for form-based code implementation. However, some of the higher-density areas are unlikely to happen without infrastructure upgrades, which the committee is mindful of in their write-up. Other details include promoting senior housing, as well as growing and enhancing the the town’s supply of natural spaces and parks.

If all goes well at the meeting, the comprehensive plan committee will incorporate suggestions from the general public, host a second public meeting later this year with the finalized document, and then the town will conduct an environmental review (more of a legal formality by that point) before taking a vote to make the plan official.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.