path for a sustainable future


Hamlets represent historic crossroads and town centers in many of the rural areas of Onondaga County.  Although unincorporated and not a separate governmental entity, Hamlets often include many features of a small village and serve as focal points for the community. For these reasons, Hamlets are potentially good locations for focused nodes of development in the County’s rural communities.

Rural Hamlets were identified based on their location, existing built form and transportation access, as well as their potential to evolve more fully into a node of mixed-use activity and serve as an identifiable community center.


Hamlets are often characterized by many of the same features that define small villages, including a prominant crossroads location, civic, religious and small-scale commercial structures, and historic single- and multi-family residential homes.  Parks and war memorials are frequently located within the rural hamlets of Onondaga County, supporting their historic function as destinations within the surrounding rural community.  The adjacent agricultural lands create informal gateways that announce arrival to these nodes of activity.  What distinguishes Hamlets from more densely developed Character Areas (e.g., Village Cores) is that Hamlets typically are not serviced by sewer, water and other urban infrastructure.


Hamlets provide a distinct separation from their surrounding areas in both the density and amount of development.  The maintenance of hamlets as compact, yet low-intensity nodes within the larger rural context is critical to preserving their character and preventing the continuation of sprawl.  These areas represent locations that historically served as rural crossroads, but now have the potential to serve as an identifiable community center and node for that development necessary to support the surrounding rural towns. As such, Towns should consider adopting land use regulations for hamlet areas to differentiate these areas from lower densities found elsewhere within the community.

Sample Strategies

  • Identify appropriate housing density and infrastructure limits during land use planning.
  • Evaluate feasibility for small wastewater package systems to allow for increased densities to support development focused within Hamlets.
  • Encourage design standards that maintain an appropriate development character in context with the existing buidings and distinct from the surrounding areas.
  • Promote master-planned development adjacent to Hamlets to increase development densities and to improve walkability and connectivity to transit.