“You’re going to have development and growth,” said Hank Dorman, president of the Utica Town Council. “People up here can’t comprehend the changes that will take place, that’s my personal opinion. We don’t want to lose what we have here, this quaint atmosphere.”
PREPARING FOR CHANGE
Dorman said he expects the east-end crossing to put Utica back on the map. Though the town has centuries of history behind it, he said the last 70 years have left it somewhat stagnant.
“We’ve always been sort of a dead-end down,” Dorman said. “The ammunition plant shut down in the 1940s. That’s why Utica, I think, kept its quaint atmosphere, but it made us a dead-end town.”
Now there’s potential for revival on a number of fronts. Utica’s proximity to the River Ridge business development, potential for more residential space and the need for commercial expansion all contributed to its first reworked zoning plan in 31 years.
Passed at the town council’s Jan. 14 meeting, the plan expands commercial zoning on Fourth Street, the town’s main drag, as the state prepares to widen Old Salem Road to the bridge’s interchange. Dorman said more cars passing through the town gives opportunity for revenue.
“The influx of new traffic with the development that’s coming around Utica, I think that’s going to be the biggest adjustment for the community,” Dorman said.
He said as the bridge comes in, he expects property values to increase in the area. To help make sure the town is pulling in dollars for infrastructure improvements and additions to public safety and police, they’re closely looking at annexation plans that could benefit the whole town.
Jimmy Carter, vice president of the town council, said the ordinance gives officials more room to foster change in the area while maintaining control of downtown’s ambiance.