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State Report: Workforce Growing in 2022, Still Needs Big Boost

On June 22, the Bethlehem Town Board adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that will inform the community’s future land use, development, policy, programs, and infrastructure decisions. The full plan can be found here.

This Comprehensive Plan Update provides a new vision for how to guide growth, how to support the elements that make the Town strong today, and how to make it stronger and more sustainable in the future. The Plan is focused on six principles: Interwoven Equity, Livable Built Environment, Harmony with Nature, Resilient Economy, Healthy Community, and Responsible Governance and Regionalism.

These principles, working together, provide recommendations to address climate change and resiliency, aging in place, historic preservation, housing and transportation needs, support for agriculture and economic development, and strategies for a healthy community. The Plan is branded Bethlehem Forward in an effort to engage the public and advance a thoughtful conversation to define a future for the community in 2035. The adoption is the culmination of four years of collaborative work between community members, and business and municipal leaders. The process kicked off in 2018 and was guided by an incredible volunteer advisory committee who represented all seven hamlets and brought a wide range of technical expertise to the Bethlehem Forward effort. The Plan was informed by 28 committee meetings and 5 public information meetings/workshops, pop-up information-sharing opportunities at community events, and civic participation via social media. The 2022 Plan is called an update because it builds upon the 2005 Comprehensive Plan, but it is also a wholly new plan that draws on 15 years of experience implementing that earlier plan. Its principles, goals, and recommendations stem from core community values and a vision that recognizes the many challenges Bethlehem is facing now and the growing challenges for many years to come.

“Bethlehem is a dynamic community that is growing and will continue to grow because people want to live and work here. This Comprehensive Plan Update is what an effective plan should be: ambitious and bold, while also pragmatic and focused on results,” said Bethlehem Town Supervisor David VanLuven. “I am so grateful to our Town staff, volunteer advisory committee members, and hundreds of residents who participated in the planning process to create a roadmap that will help us work – together – to successfully support our Town well into the future.”

“The Town’s new Comprehensive Plan will guide the vibrant community we call home to move forward into the future,” said Brian Gyory, Bethlehem Planning Board Director. “This plan enables progressive thinking on open space preservation and affordable housing while retaining protections for property owner’s rights.”

Bethlehem Town Board Member Joyce Becker said, "The Comprehensive Plan creates a strong clear vision for Bethlehem today and tomorrow. The Plan was created after many years of gathering and listening to ideas expressed by community residents, business owners, and Town leaders. I am proud of the outcome and work provided by the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee volunteers, who worked tirelessly, to provide a new vision for a vibrant Town."

"The Comprehensive Plan sets forth a bold vision for our Town for the next 15 years. We are grateful to those who voluntarily served on the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, to everyone who came to the numerous committee and Town Board meetings and submitted comments, and to the Town Planning Staff that considered all comments and drafted the document,” said Dan Coffey, Bethlehem Town Board Member.  “Bethlehem's original Comprehensive Plan was an excellent document and planning tool but it was outdated and we are glad to present this final updated Plan. It will serve as a useful planning tool as we consider zoning law changes and changes to our Town code to meet our goals of preserving open space, managing smart growth, diversifying our tax base, and making our community sustainable for future generations."

Bethlehem Town Board Member Maureen Cunningham said, “Creating a forward-thinking vision that is inclusive of 35,000 diverse residents is not an easy task, and yet we achieved this through four years of collective hard work. Bethlehem's updated Comprehensive Plan will enable us to both hold onto the strong sense of community we all cherish while at the same time provide us with a blueprint for ensuring a healthy, thriving, and sustainable community for years to come. I am proud of this plan, and most of all, incredibly proud of our community.”

“This Comprehensive Plan is our guide for moving Bethlehem forward in a way that preserves our Town’s character while also leaving our community better and stronger for our children and their children,” said David DeCancio, Bethlehem Town Board Member. “The plan will serve as a framework for updating local zoning and codes in a way that will best coordinate development and preservation in a way that preserves the quality of life that makes our Town such a great place to live and raise a family.”