Franklin Co. Legislators given three planner options

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 3:28 am

MALONE — A $45,000 study on whether Franklin County should create a planning entity concluded that a committee should be appointed to look into it more.

And the authors of the report said the county could contract with them again to gather that additional information and ultimately hire them to carry out the planning work.

Franklin County is among a handful of New York counties without a planning body, and creating one is an idea that, in the past, developed in spurts of activity that soon sputtered.

Surveys conducted in 1999 and 2009 determined 70 percent of respondents favored having a county planner.

But the county wanted a new study to learn what grant opportunities were missed because of having no coordinated economic-development and planning strategy.


Bob Hest of Fuller Communications and Rick LaVitre, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, briefed legislators on the report’s recommendations at an April 3 meeting but did not have copies of the document available.

Last week, County Manager Thomas Leitz released a draft of the report, which includes more than 20 pages of background on the St. Lawrence County Planning Department operation and several more pages of rough notes from telephone and in-person interviews.

The study says the county has three choices: 

Public/private option: Contract with someone to attract investors, write grants, assist and train municipalities in obtaining grants and coordinate county information sharing.

Regional-partnership option: Contract with St. Lawrence County for three years to use its Planning Department resources, then charge municipalities a portion of the expense out of administration fees they obtain through any grants they are awarded.

Contractual option: Contract with Cooperative Extension to tap into its resources relating to agriculture and youth.

The county should expect to pay at least $125,000 a year for any of the options, the report states.


Once legislators decide which of the three ideas to pursue, the study advises members to form a nine-person committee to “provide guidance and oversight of the economic-development activities.”

That could include town supervisors, village mayors, major employers and financial agencies, who would report to Leitz and the county’s Economic Development Committee.

The study found: few municipalities would help pay for a planning entity; zoning should not be included in the scope of work; county statistical data should be available from a single source; working with the Adirondack Park Agency is essential; and working with established agricultural districts is necessary.


Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said he had not read the full report, but following the April 3 briefing he said he was disappointed the overview didn’t appear to provide a more definitive recommendation for legislators or contain much information that members expected to receive.

He said he may ask LaVitre and Hest to appear before the County Legislature again to talk more in depth about their findings.

In the request for proposals issued a year ago, the county wanted specifics addressed in the study, such as:

• How much municipalities could save using a county-planning service instead of hiring separate consultants.

• What grant opportunities municipalities had missed and how much money they had lost out on by having no county-planning entity to consult.

• How much it could cost to offer county-wide planning services.

• How efficiency could be improved through a planning entity.

Email Denise A.


Information for the study on planning for Franklin County was obtained from County Manager Thomas Leitz, the Highway Department, Public Nursing Services and Emergency Services; planning departments in both Warren County and St. Lawrence County; current and former supervisors in the towns of Bellmont, Constable, Tupper Lake, Duane, Westville, Chateaugay and Malone, the Malone Chamber of Commerce, Malone businessman and Saranac Lake hotel developer Chris LaBarge, the Adirondack Park Agency, the county Industrial Development Agency and the Adirondack Economic Development Corp.