Boards receive state training

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton and Montgomery counties’ planning boards recently hosted annual land use training sessions at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Training was for members of area planning boards and zoning boards of appeals, said Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty.

A news release was issued concerning the training, which took place March 6. Training sessions are put together to give local board members an option of obtaining their state-mandated four hours per year of training. As in the past, this year’s sessions were conducted by staff from the state Office of Local Government Services. Topics for this year’s training sessions included “Downtown Revitalization” and “Aging in Place.”

Sessions were attended by 41 participants from both counties.

The release said that the first session, “Downtown Revitalization,” focused on the fact that every vibrant downtown owes some of its success to people living in or very close to the central business district. Speakers talked about recent changes in New York state’s Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, which makes it easier to rehabilitate upper floors of buildings downtown for residential use — good news for New York state’s downtowns.

“The speakers also discussed the challenges facing local municipalities,” the release said. “The course touched on some of the specific building code changes and provided information that local officials can utilize to encourage and support downtown retail through land use regulation and other resources.”

In the second session, “Aging in Place,” the release said participants were asked to consider whether or not their communities were ready for aging Baby Boomers. The speakers pointed out that with growing populations of older residents, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that they can live independently for as long as possible.

“The course touched on what makes a community livable for older citizens benefits people of all ages and physical abilities,” the release said.

Land use planning and regulatory tools to help communities were outlined during the presentation. Topics included a variety of housing choices, accessory dwelling units, golden drones, and senior-friendly sidewalk and street designs.