MALONE — This year, Franklin County began to take a look at creating a planning department.
In 1999, that look will be more intense.
The county wants to hire a consultant to find out what it needs most and what is high on the list of concerns, said County Chairman Ray Susice (D-St. Regis Falls).
But, a "full-blown" planning board would be expensive, and Susice said that he couldn't support such an expenditure.
"An engineer for roads, an engineer for bridges, an engineer for buildings, I don't think the county's got the money to afford something like that."
Last year, when Susice took over as county chairman, he appointed a committee to look into the idea.
But, before he commits to any type of planning board, he wants to get the advice of a consultant. They have advertised for one to conduct a study on the needs of the entire county.
The Town of Malone recently approved a resolution encouraging the formation of a county planning board after a recommendation from the town Planning Board. In the resolution, the Town Board invited other towns to support the concept.
"I think we're only one of a few counties in the state that does not have a county planning board," said Donald Dumas, chairman of the Malone Town Planning Board.
"The county planning board could do a lot for the county as far as helping us to diversify, to bring in businesses or to apply for grant money. But of course, it's going to take money to make money."
Dumas feels that any money spent on creating a planning board would be a good investment.
"We've got to wake up here in the county, if we want to move ahead."
He cited the casino that the St. Regis Mohawks plan to open in the spring as an area where a planning board could assist.
"The county should be taking a big step in helping the casino get going. It will create tax money for us, and we should be doing something to help out."
Dumas wants other towns to "push our county legislators" into looking into the serious need for a planning board.
He would hate to see the county go into the next century without such a board.
"It's something that's needed now. I wish we could put this together in '99 and be prepared for the year 2000. We can't sit still and let things just ride. We've got to be on top of things all the time, help people out and help our businesses that are already here. A county planning board could do those types of things, I believe."
The Town Planning Board is sponsoring an informational seminar on planning Feb. 22.
State officials will be on hand to discuss zoning issues and planning boards.
Dumas said the meeting will be open to any person or any organization that wishes to get more information. Final details will be announced as the date nears.