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In 2009, Tom Golisano knocked the Village of Pittsford.

“I didn’t find out until a few years ago, we actually have a Village of Pittsford. I have to ask myself what do they do there that couldn’t be absorbed by the Town of Pittsford easily? And there’s probably 6 or 8 or 10 other villages in our area where the same thing applies.”

The village has 1,400 residents and takes up a square mile. The mayor says the village actually does a whole lot.

“Pittsford doesn’t look like everyplace else,” said Bob Corby. “It doesn’t look like West Henrietta Road. And there’s a reason for that.”

Corby says the reason is Pittsford’s famous enforcement of zoning and preservation codes. He points to Brighton, Gates and Greece as having either no town center or a town center that’s not particularly walkable or attractive. Corby says those places don’t have a village to protect the core.

Corby and village trustees were irked when a task force charged with finding ways the town, village and school district can collaborate formed a subcommittee to explore a town-village merger.

No matter what the committee recommends, it’s doubtful a merger will ever happen in Pittsford. Residents are fiercely protective of their village and they’re the only ones who can approve dissolving. What’s more, the village isn’t exactly hurting for cash. Real estate values are through the roof.

We often hear about too many layers of government. Governor Andrew Cuomo would like to see more consolidation. Pittsford’s village makes an interesting case against doing so. It will be interesting to see if the character of Seneca Falls’ suffers under town government.

What do you think – do we need our village governments?

5 Responses to Do We Need Village Governments?

  1. Yes…look at all our southern towns and villages..aka avon..beautiful villages surrounded by towns that connect a distinct community..if greece, gates, henrietta could do this to it would all be for the better. I always wondered about this topic..good job Rachel

  2. February 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm edward richards responds:

    more government = happier people? not so.

  3. In 1896 the village of Charlotte was incorporated in Greece. Unfortunately for Greece, this village-like town center evaporated when the city annexed Charlotte in 1916 and it became the 23rd Ward.

  4. As with so many things, each case is its own. Take Naples for instance, infighting and a lack of focus (along with many things) made the village government useless. As with any government there is a certain amount of compromise and planning required to be effective. Certain towns can retain the charm of a village setting while removing a layer of government, some cannot. A nice topic that requires much consideration.

  5. February 24, 2012 at 9:43 am James Simons responds:

    When I was studying urban planning in college I thought of a plan that NY State should devise to have better, more efficient governments that will allow it to compete with other states. My plan is not something that would ever be adopted and I’m sure is too far-fetched for many people. It would require a massive overhaul of the state Constitution as well as the mindset of our fellow citizens. However, I feel it does offer some decent possibilities for consolidation.

    First eliminate all town and village governments. Population centers would then either be cities or county land. Cities would be able to incorporate based on factors of previous history, population minimums and density. I would also once again allow cities to annex adjacent land if those residents approve. All other land not incorporated as cities would be County land. Residents could still use town names for geographical reference points. A special hamlet designation would be created. Village centers, such as Pittsford and Fairport, under this designation would have limited zoning ability to maintain their character. All other services would be provided by the county. Lastly I would create a Metro organization to oversee land-use for each metro region in the state. Each metro would have urban growth boundaries to limit sprawl and concentrate development in already populated areas.

    The division of schools, fire, police and other services falls under a much broader discussion. This idea is based partially on plans used in Oregon and the forms of government in the south and southwest. Portland, specifically, is a model for how land-use should be monitored regionally. The urban growth boundary there, along with an excellent light rail system, has helped that city boom. More info on the urban growth boundary can be found here: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=277

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