Land Use & Natural Resources 

Comprehensive Planning – A municipality’s comprehensive plan provides a vision for the future of the community and recommends land use policies to achieve that vision. The Town of Hillsdale has a comprehensive plan with accompanying zoning and land use laws, including preservation overlay districts for aquifers, stream corridors, floodplains, agricultural land, and ridgelines, which can play key roles in minimizing damage from flooding, maintaining viable agriculture, and protecting scenic views of high-elevation areas.

Conducting a Tree Inventory Tree Inventories help communities to keep track of the location, size and condition of trees that help to shade neighborhoods and enhance quality of life. Shade trees are an important component in mitigating effects of climate change-related heat waves. According to the U.S. EPA, shaded surfaces may be 20-45° cooler than peak temperatures of unshaded materials.  Assessing and tracking the condition of trees can help municipalities avoid costly damages by treating or removing diseased trees before they become a hazard, and planning for replacement of trees that can’t be saved. A tree inventory mapping the trees along public roads in the Hillsdale hamlet could be the basis for developing a tree planting plan to improve the shade conditions and to beautify the hamlet. 

Conservation Advisory Council – Per NYS General Municipal Law, each municipality is sanctioned to create a Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) to advise local government on environmental matters and review development proposals with potential environmental impact. The Town of Hillsdale has a CAC that advises the Planning Board and other town agencies, and has conducted additional projects, including a groundwater study and a Natural Resources Inventory, and is now preparing an Open Space Plan.

Conserving Natural Landscapes The conservation of natural landscapes like forests and wetlands result in many benefits, including the reduction of flood damage.  Forests naturally reduce stormwater by slowing the movement of runoff and absorbing rain into the ground.  Wetlands allow water to slow down and spread out during heavy precipitation events, reducing flood volumes. The Town of Hillsdale has been involved in a number of initiatives that support careful planning and conservation to maintain natural landscapes that help reduce impacts of climate change.  The Town is participating in watershed planning for the Upper Taghkanic and Agawamuck creeks, and completed a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) in 2020. Columbia County’s Environmental Management Council produced a county-wide NRI in 2018.

Implementing Waterfront ZoningWaterfront zoning is an important step that communities can take to reduce vulnerability to flooding.   Communities may adopt a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, create a Flood Overlay District, or pass an amendment to existing zoning that recognizes new Base Flood Elevations.  The Town of Hillsdale has a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance and a Floodplain Overlay District.  The Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance could be amended to prohibit the building of new structures in flood hazard areas. 

Planting Trees for Tributaries The Town of Hillsdale has worked with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to plant trees along the Roeloff Jansen Kill. The trees planted on the shoreline will help to reduce erosion, and provide shade and nutrients to wildlife.  Plants and shrubs were provided free of charge through the Trees for Tribs program, and planted by volunteers. Trees for Tribs is a program that provides landowners, municipalities and conservation organizations with low-cost or no-cost native vegetation for streamside plantings.  Visit the Trees for Tribs website to learn more.