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Bethlehem planning board member steps down

Daniel Odell's 12 years on the Bethlehem Planning Board have given him an unexpected education, including learning that Delaware Avenue was once Delaware Turnpike and where the only lake in town is.

Odell is leaving his position with the board this month after serving two terms.

I got to know corners of the town I never knew existed, said Odell, looking back on his tenure, which began in 1995 after he was appointed to fill a seat left vacant by Gary Swann.

Odell recalls working on the land use management plan in the early '90s and how that plan was a precursor to the comprehensive plan developed almost a decade later.

"The major difference why we have a master plan now is due to the change in parties," said Odell, who commended the leadership of former supervisor Terri Egan, who hired Economic Development Director George Leveille and how their efforts moved the town comprehensive plan forward.

"The two were very skilled managing the process of the master plan and getting stakeholders into the discussion," Odell said.

According to Odell, heavy industrial users and environmentally unfriendly businesses tried to locate in Bethlehem before the comprehensive plan was developed.

"The town needed to set a standard or a pattern to encourage certain kinds of development and to hold the line on development that can be viewed as negative," Odell said.

The 450-acre Vista Technology Park, located in Slingerlands, is close to becoming a reality. Odell said Vista falls more in line with the proper development a comprehensive plan can bring to the town.

"When you look at a tech park, you have a tax base increase without a strain on the school system," said Odell.

Odell called his colleagues on the planning board "highly motivated" and respectful of each other and the people who come in front of the board. His advice to people who are interested in serving on the board is to be prepared for an educational experience.

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