path for a sustainable future

Get Involved

The Sustainable Development Plan is the product of a an extensive public involvement effort aimed to engage as many citizens, stakeholders and local governments as possible. While the formal planning effort is now largely complete, this should be viewed as only a starting point for a living process that will continue to provide opportunities for County residents to be involved. Over the coming months and years, the County will continue to look for ways to engage local municipalities, community groups and citizens in a discussion the Sustainable Development Plan. It is important to maintain an ongoing dialogue as it will take each one of us to implement the steps necessary for a sustainable future for Onondaga County.

One of the primary reasons to use as the primary conduit for this living process is to provide an accessible venue that County residents can use to participate in the planning and implementation process. Please use the resources provided here to get involved and stay informed. For upcoming events, please check the Announcements page frequently, or contact us through our web-based contact form.

Over the past year, there have been many different opportunities for Onondaga County citizens to get involved and help guide the outcomes of the Sustainable Development Plan, both in person and online. A brief summary of these opportunities can be found below.

Previous Participation Opportunities


The ENVISION OUR FUTURE Public Workshop was held on June 28, 2011 at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse. This Workshop was the first in a series of outreach efforts exploring how decisions made by government, businesses and residents impact the natural environment, the regional economy, and quality of life in Onondaga County. In addition to a main presentation, each workshop participant was also asked to attend two of three break-out sessions. The purpose of these sessions was to allow participants to discuss in more detail their vision of a future Onondaga County. Each participant was then asked to identify which four comments they considered to be most important for the future sustainability of Onondaga County.

For a more detailed summary of this meeting, check out the ENVISION OUR FUTURE page.

Municipal & Stakeholder Meetings

It would be impossible to develop a realistic vision for Onondaga County without tapping into the knowledge and expertise of the local stakeholders who are actively shaping our communities on a daily basis. In total, nine focus group meetings were held, with over 100 participants representing regional and local governments, economic development, nonprofit and social institutions, business interests and open space advocates. This diverse group of experts shared their valuable knowledge and advice to help form the Sustainable Development Plan’s Element Reports, Character Areas Map and Action Plan.

In addition to stakeholder group meetings, individual municipal meetings were conducted to introduce the plan and to learn firsthand about the issues and opportunities affecting our local communities. Several local municipalities actively participated in this effort (shown in brown on the map to the left), providing insight on a wide variety of topics ranging from zoning to taxing structure to bicycle trails. As this Plan moves forward, efforts to involve the County’s communities in the process will continue.

Several public presentations about the Sustainable Development Plan at local meetings and events were also given. If you are interested in having the Plan presented at your major event, please contact us through our web-based contact form.


The Sustainable Development Plan made use of an exciting tool in regional planning – scenario modeling. This land use allocation tool helped our region understand the relationships between policy choices and the resulting impacts to communities. Scenario modeling helped to identify how our policies impact our desire for efficient, affordable and attractive communities. Two development scenarios were developed as part of this effort – one based on our current development trends and one based on Smart Growth principles. During a series of four open houses and a virtual open house available through, County residents overwhelmingly indicated their support for the scenario based on Smart Growth principles. In fact, almost 90 percent of respondents preferred the Smart Growth scenario over the continuation of current development trends.

For more information on the scenario modeling, check out our Development Scenarios page.

Community Planning & Transportation Resident Survey

In 2010, SOCPA and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) conducted a joint survey of County households to gather public opinion about existing and future transportation and land use patterns in Onondaga County. This effort used a statistically valid survey to inform the development of SMTC’s Long Range Transportation Plan and the County’s Sustainable Development Plan. The survey collected data about perceptions and preferences on land development, urban design and transportation systems. Nearly 1,000 surveys were completed and returned.

Survey results generally reflected strong support for regional planning focusing on the efficient use existing infrastructure and community assets, protection of natural and scenic areas, focused growth in existing centers and a desire to explore more and different transportation options. Below is a summary of the survey results:

  • More than three-quarters of respondents thought new development should take place in already developed communities with available buildings or unused land.

  • A strong majority of respondents (77%) felt that housing and buildings should be closely spaced, with sidewalks leading to nearby shops and parks, even if it means having smaller homes and less space for parking.

  • A sizable percentage of respondents (37%) believed that infrastructure should not be expanded at all until the region experiences population growth, and very few (9%) thought local governments should expand infrastructure anytime to support growth.

  • Protecting environmental assets, protecting farms and scenic resources, and reducing energy usage were of highest importance to respondents.

  • Only 16% of respondents thought that the best long-term solution for reducing traffic congestion was to build new roads; instead, they supported improving transit options and creating denser communities.

  • The survey found strong support for such transportation options as regional and local train, expanded and express bus service, carpooling, walking and bicycling. Half of respondents indicated that they would drive less if other travel types were more convenient and accessible.

  • The types of development most desired by respondents were small shops and businesses, farms, and manufacturing/warehouses. Fewer respondents favored new housing and large stores and office buildings.

Download a copy of the survey report for additional details and results.

Thank you for getting involved!