Town Supervisor David Tennent on connecting communities in rural Campbell, NY

Town of Campbell, NY. Photo via Town of Campbell website.

Residents of Campbell, NY, want a vibrant main street while maintaining their rural atmosphere. David Tennent, Town Supervisor and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is using smart growth strategies to improve walkability, foster local business, and enhance natural resources to provide the Campbell that the residents desire.

Before coming into office three years ago, Tennent did not know that he would be advocating for a vibrant main corridor in Campbell. But during the planning stages of Campbell’s Comprehensive Plan it became clear that residents wanted more community events and a stronger main street.

“When you are making a comprehensive plan for 25 years into the future, you just have to show residents how much change has happened in the past 25 years,” Tennent says about some residents’ hesitance about the Comprehensive Plan. “Once there was an understanding that change was natural and would happen, people wanted to be a part of the change.”

Tennent quickly got to work. The Comprehensive Plan was completed in August of 2013 and in 2014, with the help of Smart Growth America’s Technical Assistance Program, the town overhauled its zoning code for the first time in 30 years. The new code features streamlined regulations and a simplified approval process, designed to attract and foster new local businesses. Campbell’s largest employer is the Kraft cheese processing plant, and attracting new businesses is an important part of diversifying the area’s economy. Tennent hopes that the codes will attract more small businesses and create new jobs for Campbell-area residents.

Campbell is also creating a 40-mile river trail, one of the goals set out in the Comprehensive Plan. The trail was originally going to be much shorter, but Tennent and his colleagues on the Town Council realized a longer trail had the potential to be a regional draw, more beneficial to residents, and possibly receive more funding. Tennent is now working with surrounding areas to help reach the 40-mile goal.

Each of these projects is part of making Campbell stronger and more vibrant — with farmers markets, coffee shops, and more community events.

“I want the community to have a true sense of community spirit,” Tennent explained. “I want Campbell residents to want to live here because of the things that the people in the town are doing.” With the progress made since Tennent started, it seems Campbell has chosen the right person to get them where they want to go.

Local Leaders Council Technical assistance