path for a sustainable future

Rural Landscapes

The Rural Landscapes Character Area represents a tapestry of low density land uses ranging from transitional suburban areas to fields, farmland and open spaces. Sanitary sewer and regional drinking water service is generally not available in the Rural Landscapes area.

Rural Landscapes represent the largest character area class in Onondaga County and are primarily located in the southern and western portions of the County, outside of the urbanized areas.


Rural Landscapes represent those areas where the intensity of development transitions away from the suburban form to larger tracts of open space and agricultural uses. Common characteristics of these areas include active agriculture, fallow fields, forest stands, large lot residential development (often due to the lack of sewer and water infrastructure), small individual commercial developments and agricultural support services. The Rural Landscape areas represent some of the most productive farmland and dairy in the State, while providing the bucolic vistas and open spaces many residents wish to conserve.


A unique set of challenges and opportunities exist in these areas requiring an active and balanced approach to land use planning and investment. Most people will agree that protecting the scenic beauty and productive characteristics of these areas is critical to maintaining the quality of life in Onondaga County. Development practices that protect Rural Landscapes and agricultural viability, while also maximizing development in appropriate areas, should be of high priority. Special consideration should be given to the importance of the Rural Landscapes for future food production by discouraging the development of active farmland and prime soils.

Sample Strategies

  • Identify and incentivize the protection of the most productive farmland within the County for continued agricultural use.
  • Identify and seek the protection of highly valued open spaces and viewsheds.
  • Establish a regional dialogue to discuss the importance of rural areas and establish a common vision for balanced development and conservation.
  • Evaluate the use of zoning techniques (e.g., large-lot zoning) to protect rural landscapes from transitioning to a more suburban form.