From family homes to farms, Onondaga County releases grand vision for its future

TOWN OF CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A comprehensive plan was released Tuesday, May 9, by Onondaga County detailing a vision for the community’s growth moving into the next generation.

The 250-page document outlines what the county government’s priorities will be when it comes to using land, developing housing, approving projects, working with existing neighborhoods, maintaining green spaces and waterways and strengthening community business centers.

The plan is expected to guide policies and investments made by Onondaga County government.

Plans with a similar purpose have been released about every 20 years for the last century, the most recent since 2001.

The plan’s development began before Micron announced a $100 billion project in the Town of Clay, but Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says the economic development from the mega project will help make the plan a reality.

The plan lists five themes:

  1. Strong Centers
  2. Housing and Neighborhoods
  3. Community Mobility
  4. Greenways and Blueways (parks and water)
  5. Agriculture

Strong Centers

The county plans to “strengthen the quality of life and economic stability of local communities through the development of amenity-rich, vibrant, and walkable centers.”

Typically, centers are walkable, shoppable and livable areas like Downtown Syracuse and Eastwood and other villages, like Baldwinsville, but the county plans to invest in bolstering growing centers and new development like the renovations of both ShoppingTown and Great Northern Malls.

Housing and Neighborhoods

The document states: “Onondaga County will support affordable, attractive, and efficient
housing and neighborhoods to retain and attract future residents.”

It reiterated a need for more housing, through new construction and repurposing existing buildings.

It reads: “Shifting demographic trends and lifestyle preferences are impacting demands for housing, as millennials and baby boomers increasingly seek proximity to vibrant centers… These changing preferences for millennials and baby boomers, are not being met. There is a lag in the
market for housing in a range of types and prices located in walkable neighborhoods in proximity to and served by mixed-use town centers and transit-oriented development like Strong Centers.”

The plan acknowledges that buying a home in Onondaga County is made challenging by increasing prices, partially driven by low housing supply.

“Housing near identified centers and other commercial service areas need to be higher density,” reads the plan.

Community Mobility

To connect centers, neighborhood and job opportunities, the county: “will enhance mobility by improving the safety, accessibility, and diversity of options for moving people within and between communities.”

Greenways and Blueways

The plan reads: “Onondaga County will protect and expand greenways and blueways to provide unique recreation and ecological health opportunities.”


The plan summarizes: “Onondaga County will ensure that Agriculture remains a viable and integral part of the economy and a defining characteristic of the landscape.

It reads: “The biggest threats to agriculture as a land use are unplanned, wasteful development, competition for land, and conflicting land uses. Agricultural areas are vulnerable to development pressure and therefore these areas are a priority for land protection.”

A “future land use map” shows southern Onondaga County largely protected from industrial development, including the towns of Pompey, LaFayette, Fabius, Tully, Spafford, Otisco, Onondaga and Marcellus.

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