Once adopted, the open space plan will be the overriding template or guideline the town uses for future growth.
Thursday's public hearing was meant as the "kicking off" of shaping the open spaces plan. Behan said that he and the town will continue to collect input from residents and CACC, which is acting as a lead advisory agency, until the holiday season, after which time a report will be issued to the Town Board.
Department of Economic Development Director George Leveille said the town was looking for initial feedback on what is to go into the plan and where residents rank their priorities over the matter.
"We're talking about concepts. Think about values that can guide the community," Leveille told residents. "So at the end of the day, we'll find common ground on what's important to you."
Behan said that people are realizing "land is finite," citing that $6.3 billion was approved by voters for local conservation spending in 2006. He added "New York state is the leader in open space planning."
Councilmen Mark Hennessey and Sam Messina were also on hand during the two-hour public workshop.
Messina said he sat in and listened to the residents in several different groups, and he was surprised by how different each group's perspective on open space was. He also noted that despite the big turnout overall, there was not a very large representation from residents of inner Delmar.
Several key components were reiterated by most of the groups when they reconvened shortly before 9 p.m. to report their findings to everyone left at the meeting.
Keeping land sustainable; protecting natural resources; tax relief for landowners maintaining open space; landowner respect; respect for the land; and keeping the open spaces plan "a living document," were some of the repeated concepts.
"The open space protection place is important to the community," Cunningham told residents at the end of the meeting, after thanking them for coming. "Your participation is integral to its success."
CACC holds a public meeting that focuses on the open space plan and other conservation issues on the second Monday of each month at Town Hall at 7 p.m.""