path for a sustainable future

Buildings & Neighborhoods

The Buildings & Neighborhoods element examines appropriate urban forms, sustainable development patterns and development regulations in Onondaga County, and focuses on new development in and around traditional neighborhoods that provides a host of benefits to the County and its residents.

Onondaga County is home to more than 450,000 people living in a variety of settings – from the historic urban areas associated with the City of Syracuse and the County’s 15 villages, to rural communities with a deep agricultural heritage, to more recent suburban communities characterized by large-lot residential subdivisions and retail and commercial corridors. These three character area types (urban, rural, and suburban) are the foundation of urban form within the County and offer distinct environments that support a variety of preferred lifestyles for residents.

Prior to World War II, much of the County’s population resided in compact and dense urban cores located in the City of Syracuse and the County’s historic villages. Characterized by a diversity of uses, walkability, central public spaces, and a well-defined sense of place, the tradition of historic neighborhoods that provide a high quality of life is one of the County’s greatest strengths. New suburban development constructed away from traditional urban and village cores has led to disinvestment and neighborhood decline in urban areas and a loss of character in rural areas. In addition, sprawling development outside of traditional urban and village cores is fostered by single-purpose and out-dated land use regulations and requires infrastructure expansions that are fiscally unsustainable over the long term.

Several issues and opportunities relating to Buildings & Neighborhoods were identified over the course of the planning process. A sample key findings is provided below. To review the complete report, follow the link to the right.

Key Findings

  • The decentralization of County residents has increased the distance they must travel to reach many amenities, with most residents no longer living within walking distance of a bus stop, a supermarket, a school or a park.

  • Villages, hamlets and locations with sewer and water infrastructure should be the focal points for expanded development, though the implementation techniques should be carefully monitored to prevent development from perpetuating sprawl.

  • New and infill development should respect historic context and provide a mix of uses, diverse housing types, a network of well-connected streets and blocks, a central public space and civic activity.