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Town of St. Johnsville Comprehensive Plan 2005 - Current


Historical Background and Development Patterns


Regional Setting


            The Town of St. Johnsville is a rural community located in the north western portion of Montgomery County, New York and consists of approximately 16.5 square miles.  The Erie Canal (Mohawk River) derives the Town’s southern border. The Town of Palatine comprises its eastern border and Fulton and Herkimer County’s serve as its northern and western border respectively. The Town, along with the rest of Montgomery County is included in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau).  The Town is easily accessible by automobile from New York State Thruway Exits 29 and State Highways 5 and 67.  See Regional Location Map on the next page.




            The Town of St. Johnsville’s natural landform was created by glaciers thousands of years ago.  About 550 million years ago St. Johnsville was a nearly featureless plain underlain by ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks.         


            During the Ordovician period (490 to 430 million years ago) the present day bedrock of St. Johnsville was deposited under marine conditions.  As time passed, very few changes took place until the Appalachian Revolution occurred during the end of the Paleozoic Era (220 million years ago).  This revolution permanently raised most of the State above sea level. 


            The present day landscape of St. Johnsville is due to the glacial stage in New York State which probably began 50,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Pleistocene ice age.  The glaciers transformed the landscape of the State changing river patterns, and smoothing out mountain tops.  Throughout this ice age there were a series of glacial advances and retreats.  The final glacial retreat occurred 8,000 to 10,000 years ago and was known as the Wisconsin Glacier.  In their wake the glaciers left glacial till, which is the material deposited beneath a moving glacier.  The makeup of this till is influenced by the local bedrock over which the glacier moved.  In this area the vast amount has contributed to the  clay rich soils.


            A Bedrock and Surficial Geology map have been prepared for the Town of St. Johnsville (see pages __ and ___ respectively).  The Bedrock Geology map shows the continuous solid rock of the continental crust, while the Surficial Geology map illustrates the distribution of deposits on the surface of the landscape.  The Bedrock Map shows that St. Johnsville is predominately underlain with the Beekmantown Group, Dolgeville Formation, Utica Shale, and Theresa (Galway) Formation.  The Surficial Geology Map depicts St. Johnsville has entailing large areas of till, gravel and sand.

Topography and Slopes


            Topography is the configuration of a surface including its relief and the position of its natural and man-made features.  When considering areas suitable for development, the topographic conditions of an area become a main factor in influencing the type of development that is feasible in that area.


            Development in a town can include, but is not limited to, the construction of commercial and industrial buildings, houses, roads, and the installation of utilities.  Due to increased technologies, development can now take place on most slopes of varying degrees with proper planning.  In general, as the degree of slope increases, so does the difficulty of building and supporting new structures.  Development on hillsides can reduce groundwater percolation and thus lead to increased runoff, destruction of water quality, and increased erosion, flooding, and possibly even landslides.  Another problem is that the costs associated with developing on steep slopes increases because of the extra measures that need to be taken to combat the problems listed above.  Lack of slope, on the other hand, retards the drainage of surface water and limits the effectiveness of sanitary sewage disposal systems.


            In general, it’s safe to say that low slopes (0 to 8 percent) are the most suitable for development providing there is careful removal of ground cover.  Development on moderate slopes (8 to 15 percent) should be analyzed carefully and the necessary erosion control techniques should be practiced.  Large commercial and industrial structures should be discouraged from building on lands with a moderate slope.  In general, all development should be avoided at all costs on extreme slopes (16 percent and over) because development on these slopes will most likely result in severe erosion.  On site inspection should always occur to determine if a site’s slope is suitable for development.


            The slope of a site can be determined by examining the contours of a topographic map or site development plan.  It can be calculated by placing the vertical rise over the horizontal distance between two points.  The equation for this reads:


SLOPE= Vertical Distance divided by Horizontal Distance x 100



            The Town of St. Johnsville has a wide variety of topography with just about two thirds of the town consisting of low slopes of 0 to 8 percent.  Slopes vary sporadically throughout the town ranging from 0 percent to 16 percent and over.  Areas of extremely steep slope (16 percent and over) exist along the banks of the some of the creeks in the found in the Town.  Large scale industrial and commercial development should be avoided in these areas.  (See Slopes Map on page ____).


            Elevations within the Town of St. Johnsville range from a low of approximately 300 feet above sea level along the Mohawk River to a high point of approximately 1040 feet above sea level near Baum Road in the northeastern section of the Town.  (See Elevation Map on page ______).



It is very important to know what soils are present when determining how suitable, if at all, a site is for different types of development.  Soil composition directly affects the land use potential for a given area or site.  Soil conditions are essential planning considerations because the water bearing capacity and subsurface drainage of soils are important factors in the selection of areas suitable for development of any kind.  The drainage capacity of various soils affects the density of residential development which is dependent upon individual septic tanks, or sanitary drain fields and private wells.


            Construction of septic systems, buildings, and highways are all affected by the type of soils found at that particular development site.  For example, soils with poor drainage and slow permeability can cause problems when poorly designed septic systems are installed.  Problems which may arise from installing septic systems in these types of soils are that the system can become backed up more easily and the soil around the system can be easily contaminated.  When installing septic systems in these soils, a properly installed and engineered septic system can be used to overcome the pitfalls of these types of soils.  Another example, is soils that have a high shrink-swell potential can cause streets, highways, and house foundations to crack.


            Soil data for the Town of St. Johnsville is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Resource Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) in the form of a Soil Survey.  The Montgomery County Department of Planning and Development has this soil survey on its Geographic Information System in digital format.  The Department is able to overlay any parcel within the County onto this soil map and delineate what type of soil is found there and its characteristics. 


The Soil Survey provides information on the properties of soils and their effect on selected non farm uses of the land.  The soil survey expresses soil limitations for selected uses as either slight, moderate, or severe.  A rating of slight indicates that the soil has properties favorable for the rated use.  Soil limitations are minor and can be easily overcome.  A rating of moderate indicates that the soil has properties moderately favorable for the rated use.  The limitations can be mitigated with special planning, design, or maintenance.  A rating of severe indicates that the soil has one or more unfavorable properties for the rated use.  Limitations are difficult and costly to overcome, but a rating of severe does not mean that soil cannot be used for the specific rated use.


It is recommended that the Town Planning Board obtain a copy of the Soil Survey from the National Resource Conservation Service.  This Soil Survey and its attached soil maps will help the Town Planning Board when considering the most suitable use of a piece of land for a particular area within the town.  It should be noted that this soil survey will help the Planning Board to eliminate some sites from further consideration immediately, but it should not supplant direct and detailed on site investigation when a development is being planned. 


In general, the soil structure of the Town of St. Johnsville is complex with nine different soil associations found.  These soils range from dominantly deep, well drained and moderately well drained soils that formed in glacial till on uplands to dominantly deep, excessively drained and very poorly drained soils that formed in recent alluvial deposits on flood plains.


The following map is derived from the Soil Survey and shows what soil capability class each of the soils found within the Town fall under.  (See Capability Class map on page ___).  Capability grouping shows, in a general way, the suitability of soils for most kinds of field crops.  The groups are made according to the limitations of the soils when used for field crops, the risk of damage when they are so used, and the way they respond to treatment.  The grouping does not take into account major and generally expensive landforming that would change slope, depth, or other characteristics of the soils, nor does it take into consideration possible but unlikely major reclamation projects.  It also does not apply to rice, cranberries, horticultural crops, or other crops that require special management.


The following is a list of the eight capability classes and a general description of each:

·        Capability Class 1

Soils have few, if any limitations that would restrict their use as soils for field crops of any kind.


·        Capability Class 2

Soils have only moderate limitations that reduce the choice of plants being grown or that require moderate conservation practices to be installed for proper management of the soil resource.


·        Capability Class 3

Soils have severe limitations that reduce that choice of plants grown, that require special conservation practices or both.


·        Capability Class 4

Soils have very severe limitations that reduce that choice of plants grown, that require very careful management, or both.


·        Capability Class 5

Soils are not likely to erode, but other limitations that limit their use largely to woodland or wildlife land.


·        Capability Class 6

Soils have severe limitations that make them generally unsuitable for cultivation and that limit their use largely to pasture, woodland or wildlife land.


·        Capability Class 7

Soils have very severe limitations that make them unsuitable for cultivation and that limit their use to woodland or wildlife land.


·        Capability Class 8

Soils and landforms have limitations that preclude their use for commercial plants and that restrict their use to recreation, wildlife land and aesthetic purposes.




Groundwater is a valuable resource because it is a major source of water supply, and it should be taken into careful consideration when development occurs.  Aquifers are subsurface waters that act as reservoirs and filters for drinking water, and they help in maintaining balance in the hydrologic cycle.  These aquifers are replenished by rain and runoff and this runoff contains the dissolved and suspended residues of human activities on land.  For this reason, leaking septic tanks and sewage lines, unsealed landfill sites, and sewage disposal sites can allow pollutants to pass directly into groundwater and can then contaminate the drinking water supply.  Taking all these things into consideration, it is necessary that proper planning take place concerning groundwater resources when a development is proposed.


            The United States Department of Interior Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a report in 1990 entitled “Availability of Ground Water from Unconsolidated Deposits in the Mohawk River Basin, New York”.  Through this report a map was generated which showed the estimated potential well yields.  (See map on page _______.)    The map represents the potential yield to wells from various types of saturated unconsolidated deposits.  The ranges of potential yield are based upon reported well yield data for the area, and the type and extent of surficial geology.  Most of the data was obtained from a well inventory conducted by the U.S.G.S. in parts of the Mohawk River basin during 1967-69 as part of a project to evaluate groundwater resources of the basin.  Based upon this study, three different well yields were derived from the Town of St. Johnsville (Estimated potential yield greater than 100 gallons per minute;  Estimated potential yield less than 10 gallons per minute;  and Inferred potential yield of 10 to 100 gallons per minute).  The delineated areas of the map depict where properly screened and developed wells of at least 6-inch diameter would be likely to have yields within the ranges shown. 


As noted earlier three distinct well yield ranges can be found in the Town of St. Johnsville:


Estimated potential yield greater than 100 gallons per minute:  Areas known to be underlain by aquifers consisting of well-sorted outwash sand and gravel, and recent alluvium primarily occupying valley bottoms and having a saturated thickness greater than 10 feet.  Potential yields may exceed 500 gal/min in areas where surficial sand and gravel units are hydraulically connected to overlying streams and rivers that could provide induced infiltration.  These deposits may comprise a surficial (water-table) sand and gravel aquifer, a deeper (confined) sand and gravel aquifer, or both.


Estimated potential yield less than 10 gallons per minute:  Areas underlain by deposits consisting of unstratified till that mantles bedrock uplands (ground moraine) and thicker deposits of till moraine (lodgment till).  Also included in this category are valley segments underlain by lacustrine silt and clay and areas of exposed bedrock uplands.  Till in this region is an unsorted, compacted mix of cobbles, gravel, sand, silt, and clay with very low permeability.  Where sufficiently saturated, till can yield adequate amounts of water for domestic use to properly constructed, large-diameter wells.  Thickness is variable and generally less than 10 feet for ground moraine and less than 50 feet for till moraine.  Some dug wells excavated in till are prone to failure during prolonged droughts or seasonal declines in the water table.


Inferred potential yield 10 to 100 gallons per minute:  Areas believed to be underlain by deposits composed of kame sand and gravel, glaciofluvial terrace gravel, deltas, high elevation kames, lacustrine sand and beach deposits, and alluvium deposited as terraces and fans.  Saturated thickness unknown, but probably less than 10 feet.  Areas thus delineated have little or no supporting well-yield data to confirm the presence of productive sand and gravel aquifers.  Their location and extent is inferred primarily from geologic evidence.  Individual well yields may be greater in areas where induced infiltration from nearby surface-water sources permits induced recharge or where saturated thickness is substantially greater than 10 feet.

Surface Water


            Surface water is valuable as a source of water for food, recreation, wildlife habitat,  transportation, and even power generation.  Surface water includes permanent bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands and estuaries, etc. These different types of surface water left in their natural state provide the community with scenic vistas, open space, and greenways.  The Town should protect their watercourses as prized community assets, and they should be taken into careful consideration when development occurs near them, because if they become polluted, the whole region’s water resources could suffer.


            The Mohawk River (Erie Canal) runs the length of the Towns southern border and is by far the largest body of water within the Town. There are several named and unnamed smaller creeks that can be found throughout St. Johnsville.  East Canada Creek can be found along the Towns western border.  Other creeks of note found within the Town are Crum, Timmerman, Zimmerman, and Mother.   The Mohawk River is classified as B waters by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  East Canada, Mother and a portion of Timmerman Creek are classified as C waters.  Crum Creek, Zimmerman and a portion of Timmerman are classified as CT. East Canada Lake comprises the Towns northwestern border.  By definition presented in 6 NYCRR, Class B Waters are suitable for recreation and fishing; Class C Waters are suitable for fishing and fish propagation; and Class CT simply means that there is a presence of trout along with the waters being suitable for fishing and fish propagation.  These waters are protected and a permit will be required for any stream disturbance due to future development.


            One cannot talk about surface waterbodies without considering their watersheds.  Watersheds can be described as the large land areas that contribute runoff to the waterbody.  Watersheds are defined by the geographical features that determine where the water from rivers, streams, and rainwater runoff ends up.  The individual watershed entails all the land uphill from the waterbody.  It is important that the Town take into consideration these watersheds when a development occurs, because a project in one area can have far reaching affects to the inhabitants and wildlife of another.  The Montgomery County Water Quality Committee has identified seven primary watersheds in the Town of St. Johnsville:  Caroga, Crum, East Canada, Gravenstine, Mother, Timmerman, and Zimmerman Creeks. (See Watershed Map on page __).


            The Caroga Creek Watershed encompasses approximately 136 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This Creek begins in East Caroga Lake in Fulton County.  Even though this is a major watershed, water levels fluctuate daily due to the dam at Caroga Lake which impairs this stream as a fishery.  This creek follows Wagners Hollow Road for a ways, but eventually it turns away and goes by Palatine Church on its way to the Mohawk River.


            The Crum Creek Watershed entail approximately 1,907 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This watershed starts in the Town of Oppenheim in Fulton County and works its way through rolling farmland to the Mohawk River.  Parts of the watershed are frequented by “rock hounds” looking for Herkimer diamonds.


            The East Canada Creek Watershed has about 733 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This creek is the western boundary of St. Johnsville.  One of the largest watersheds in the County, the East Canada Creek drainage covers parts of four counties.


            East Canada Creek above Beardslee Dam to the County line offers fine fishing for “cold” water species like rainbow and brown trout, and “cool” water species like smallmouth bass and assorted pan fish.  Below the dam to its confluence with the Mohawk River, most fish caught will be smallmouth bass, but the chance exists for a river run walleye or a lake reared trout.


            The East Canada Lake which forms part of the boundary between Montgomery and Herkimer County is annually stocked with about 3000 brown trout in sizes that range between 8 and 9 inches.  Although the fish that are stocked are rather small, many fish do holdover so the chance to catch a real “lunker’ exists.


            The Gravenstine Creek Watershed encompasses approximately 1,285 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This watershed is actually a series of small watersheds that drain to the Mohawk River.  Probably the best known landmark in this watershed is Fort Klock.  Another historic site within this watershed is the Nellis Tavern.


            The Mother Creek Watershed entails approximately 3,184 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville and is the largest of the seven watersheds found within the Town.  The predominant land use in this watershed is agriculture, with some of the steepest agricultural land in the County.


            The Timmerman Creek Watershed encompasses approximately 2,409 acres of land area in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This watershed has its headwaters on State land in the Town of Oppenheim in Fulton County.  There are many waterfalls on this creek as it tumbles down to the Mohawk River.  At one time, the water was used to power mills along Mill Road which follows this aesthetic stream. 


            The Zimmerman Creek Watershed consists of approximately 623 acres in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This Creek has no limitations and is used for the Village of St. Johnsville’s water supply for part of the year.  This creek has several picturesque waterfalls.  Zimmerman Creek runs right through the Town on its way to the Mohawk River.


            Information of the above referenced watersheds was obtained from the Montgomery County Water Quality Committee.


Flood Prone Areas


Flood land is the land area adjacent to a body of water which gets covered by water during periods of flooding.  Flood lands are important because of their water carrying capacity.  One must be careful when building on flood lands or floodplains because development on these areas can endanger human life and property.  Damming, filling, or leveling these floodplains decreases their storage capacity and increases flood velocity and the flood potential downstream.  Floodplains also provide open space and scenic vistas which can give a community a character all its own.


            In 1983 the Town of St. Johnsville joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Program.  FEMA produced maps of the Town showing areas of 100 to 500 year flooding potential (See Flood Zone Map on page ____).  This map shows that areas of 100 and 500 year flooding occur along the Mohawk River and East Canada Creek.



            Wetlands are tracts of low-lying lands that are saturated with moisture and act as sponges that absorb excess runoff and thus reduce flooding potential.


            Wetlands are important in many ways and contribute positively to the social, economic, and environmental health of our Nation.  Wetlands act as natural flood control devices by storing runoff from heavy rains and snow melts.  They also protect the water quality in lakes, streams, rivers, and wells by filtering pollutants, sediments, and nutrients from runoff.  Wetlands support a great variety of wildlife and are essential breeding grounds for several rare and endangered species.  Wetlands, by providing beautiful open space, enhance the quality of life, private property values, and tourism.


            Due to their importance, wetlands are regulated by New York State.  New York State Freshwater Wetlands are mapped by the Department of Environmental Conservation.  The New York State DEC maps wetlands that are at least 12.4 acres in size.  State regulations prohibit the disturbance of wetlands (without a permit) and prohibit development within 100 feet of a wetland boundary.


            New York State Freshwater Wetlands in the Town of St. Johnsville are mainly found along the flood plain of the Mohawk River.   (See N.Y. State D.E.C. Wetlands Map on page ___).  Since this is not the only places within the Town that contain wetlands, the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Map should be referenced for site specific areas. 


            In addition to New York State regulated and mapped wetlands, there also exists a large number of smaller and undocumented wetlands throughout the Town which are regulated by the United States Army Corps. of Engineers.  These Federal Wetlands have no minimum size, and their existence would have to be verified on a site/project specific basis according to vegetation, soil and hydrologic conditions.



Development Constraints


            A Development Constraints Map was produced for the Town depicting New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Wetlands, Slopes over 16%, and the 100 year flood zone.  These areas in the Town of St. Johnsville should be looked at closely in terms of cost and feasibility before being targeted for growth.


Population Characteristics




            In 2000, the population of the Town of St. Johnsville was 880 people.  The population of the Town decreased 7.2% from 1990.  Analyzing the Town’s population enhances the capability of the Town to prepare for the impact of future growth on land use, public and community services and facilities.  The chart below shows that the number of individuals over age 65 has decreased. The  number of female households (with no husband present) has increased.  These figures indicate a potential need for affordable housing, child care and elderly housing in the future. Unless otherwise noted, figures for the Town of St. Johnsville do not include the Village.


    Table :  Population Data




Total Population



No. of Families



No. of Households



No. of Married Couple Family Households

217  (61.8%)

192  (54.9%)

Female Household, No Husband

30  (8.5%)

36  (10.3%)

Age 65 and Older

160  (16.9%)

147  (16.7%)

Source:   1990 and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau



Table :  Population Changes 1970-2000    






United States


226,545,805 (11.5%)

248,709,873 (9.8%)

281,421,906 (13.2%)

New York State




17,990,455 (2.5%)

18,976,457 (5.5%)

Montgomery Co.








T. of St. Johnsville








Village of St. Johnsville








Source:   U.S. Census Bureau   %= percentage change from previous decade


The Town of St. Johnsville’s population from 1970-1980 grew at a higher rate than the Country, State and County.  Since 1980, however, the Town has lost population through each decade and its population loss outpaced that of County’s.  Through this same period the Country and State saw population gains. 


            The Town of St. Johnsville grew rapidly from 1940 to 1980 with a population growth of  over 70% during that period and then decreased during the 1980’s and 1990’s by 19.3%.  Projections done for the Town of St. Johnsville by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, shows the Town’s population rebounding and growing steadily through the year 2030 by 15.7% through the period.



Chart :  Population Changes and Projections (1940-2030)






            The Town of St. Johnsville’s median age is 38.9 years which is slightly lower than Montgomery County’s median age of 39.7 years and the Villages median age of 41.9.  These are all  quite a bit higher than that of the state which is at 35.9 years.  In the Town of St. Johnsville, 16.7% of the population is 65 years old and over.  This is slightly higher than that of the State (12.9%) and  lower than Montgomery County (19.2%). 


The chart on the following page shows the age distribution in the Town of St. Johnsville from 1990 to 2000.  The chart depicts a substantial increase in the 45 to 54 year old age group from 1990 to 2000 and a major decrease in the under 5 year old age group. 






Chart :  Population Distribution (1990-2000)




Education and Income


            Over 81% of the Town’s residents have earned at least a High School diploma.  This is more than that of the State, County and Village of St. Johnsville.  Over 11% of the Towns residents have a bachelors degree or higher.  This is substantially less than the State average of 27%, but is comparable to that of the County at 13.6%. 



                    Table :  Educational Attainment for 25 Years
                                 of Age and Older (2000)         


% High School Graduate or Higher

% Bachelors Degree or Higher

New York State



Montgomery Co.



T. of St. Johnsville



Village of St. Johnsville



Source:  2000 U.S. Census Bureau  


The Town’s median family income of $42,083 is higher than that of Montgomery County ($40,688), but less than that of the State ($51,691).  A family, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is persons related by blood, marriage or adoption and living together in a household.


    Table :  Income Data




Median Income for Families



Per Capita Income



% of Families Below Poverty Level



% of Female householder families below poverty level



% of People Below Poverty Level



Source:   1990 and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau


Per Capita Income in the Town increased  by  over 68% from 1990 to 2000 and the percentage of families below poverty decreased by 10.7% during the same period.  It should be noted that the percentage of female householder families below the poverty level increased by 12.5%  since 1990.  The number of individuals below poverty level decreased by 3.3%.  The Town of St. Johnsville’s poverty level of 9.1% is less than that of the County (12.0%) and the State (14.6%).



Table :  Comparison of Demographics of the Region         


New York State

Montgomery County

Town of St. Johnsville

Village of St. Johnsville

% Married Couple Family Households





% Female Householder Families





% Owner Occupied Housing Units





% Vacant Housing Units





Median Value of Housing Unit





Unemployment Rate





Median Family Income





% of Families Below Poverty Level





% of Individuals Below Poverty Level





Source:   2000 U.S. Census Bureau  

Employment and Business


            Management/Professional is the number one occupation of the Town of St. Johnsville residents who are 16 years of age and employed, with 28.8% of individuals falling in this category.  Production, transportation and material moving ranks second among the occupations at 27.4%.  While agriculture is still a major industry in the Town, only 2.3% of the employed individuals work in it.  According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Town of St. Johnsville’s unemployment rate was 3.7%.  This was lower than the State’s (4.3%) and slightly higher than the County’s (3.4%).


Table :  Occupation by Percent of Employed Persons 16 Years and Older         


New York State

Montgomery County

Town of St. Johnsville

Village of St. Johnsville











Sales and Office










Construction and Maintenance





Production, transportation, and material moving





Source:   2000 U.S. Census Bureau  



            From 1990 to 2000 the number of individuals who worked outside of the County increased moderately from 23.7% to 39.9% of the employed individuals.  A slightly higher percentage of people work outside the County in the Town than in Montgomery County with a rate of 37.8%. 


   Table :  Employment Data for Persons 16 Years and Older




Mean Travel Time to Work

14.2 mins.

28.3 mins.

Worked Outside County



Persons 16 Years and Over



Number in Labor Force

511 (69.2%)

457 (64.9%

Number Unemployed

53 (7.2%)

26 (3.7%)

Females 16 Years and Over



% Females In Labor Force

240 (61.1%)

206 (58.9%)

Total Number of Employed Persons

458 (62.1%)

431 (61.2%)

Source:   1990 and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau

Housing Characteristics


There are 396 housing units in the Town of St. Johnsville.  This represents an 1.0% increase in housing units since 1990.  88.4% of these units are occupied, and 11.6% are vacant.  The vacancy rate is up slightly from 9.2% in 1990.  The Town’s vacancy rate is slightly higher than that of the State (8.1%) and County (11.0%).  As a general “rule”, a vacancy rate of about 5% or more is considered adequate to meet future housing needs.
   Table :  Housing Data




Number of Housing Units



Number of Occupied Housing Units

351 (89.5%)

350 (88.4%)

Number of Owner Occupied Housing Units

291 (74.2%)

287 (72.5%)

Number of Rental Units

65 (16.6%)

63 (15.9%)

Vacant Units

36 (9.2%)

46 (11.6%)

Median Housing Value



Median Gross Rent



Source:   1990 and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau


Affordability of housing is defined as the ratio between the median value of single family houses and the household income.  Nationally, a ratio of 2 or less is considered affordable.  The affordability ratio of the Town of St. Johnsville is 1.4 with a Median House value of $60,400 and a Median Family Income value of $42,083.  According to this, housing is more affordable in St. Johnsville than it is in the County (1.7) and the State (2.9)

Tax Parcels and Tax Assessment


          The primary or dominant land use of a particular parcel of land is labeled as that parcels land use.  It is important to take an inventory of the present land use in the Town.  Understanding the existing land use patterns of the Town will allow the community to develop recommendations on future land use that are compatible with the general character of the community.  The land use map lays the foundation for zoning regulations, in that a zoning map should reflect present and future land use patterns found in the Town of St. Johnsville.   By reflecting these patterns, a properly prepared zoning regulation will enable those desired patterns to occur.


A property classification map has been prepared for the Town (page  ).  This map was created using the Town assessor’s property classification on record at the Montgomery County Real Property Tax Service Agency.  According to information from Montgomery County Real Property Tax files, the Town of St. Johnsville consists of approximately 10,567 acres of land.  6,981 acres or 66.1% of St. Johnsville is assessed as agriculture.  The second largest assessment class is Residential encompassing 10.1% or 1,069 acres of land.  The following table summarizes the tax parcel assessment characteristics of the Town of St. Johnsville. 


    Table :  January 2003 Property Classification

Property Classification

Total Acres

Land Area Percentage







Community Services






Public Services






Recreation & Entertainment



Vacant Land



Wild, Forested, Conservation Lands & Public Parks



Source:  Montgomery County Real Property Tax Service Agency




            Total assessed full value of all the parcels in the Town is $39,186,846.  Residential assessed  full value of all parcels is $14,458,900 and agriculture assessed full value is $9,377,664.    The table below shows the average tax amounts for agricultural and residential properties. 


            The tax rate for the Town, excluding the Village was $77.68 per $1000.00 assessed value.



   Table :  Agricultural and Residential Assessed Values and Tax Amounts


Agricultural Average *AV

Tax Amount

Residential Average  *AV

Tax Amount

T. of St. Johnsville


(Full Value) $97,684



(Full Value) $47,252


Source:  Montgomery County Real Property Tax Service Agency

*AV= Assessed Value (The State equalization rate of %50.00 for Town of St. Johnsville needs to be applied in order to obtain the full value).



Agricultural District


          The Town of St. Johnsville has 7,346.4 acres of land located in Montgomery County Agricultural District #2 (See Map on the following page), as designated under the State Agriculture and Markets Law (Article 25AA).


            The Department of Agricultural and Markets summarizes the purpose, benefits and intent of the Agricultural District program as follows:


“The purpose of agricultural districting is to encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production.  The Program is based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.  Included in these benefits are preferential real property tax treatment (agricultural assessment and special benefit assessment), and protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices.”


Protection of farmland through the Agricultural District Program becomes increasingly important as many local farmers find it more economical to subdivide or sell their land to developers rather than actively farm it


                Table :  Agricultural Profile


T. of St. Johnsville

Total Acres In Farms


No. of Acres Cropped


Acres Owned By Farmers


Acres Rented By Farmers






Cash Crop (Grain)


Livestock (Non-Dairy)


















Source:  Montgomery County Agricultural District #2 Report,  May 2001



          The Town’s transportation network consists almost entirely of roads.  Due to St. Johnsville’s rural nature, the transportation network is the primary infrastructure system found in the Town and is therefore important to analyze.  This network is important to the economic growth of St. Johnsville because it provides the needed access to goods and services not found in the Town.  It is important, therefore, that the roads be properly maintained to ensure economic stability for all residents and the Town as a whole.


            The Town’s transportation network is maintained by three agencies;  The New York State Department of Transportation, Montgomery County Department of Public Works, and the Town Highway Department.  The Erie Canal runs the length of the Towns northern border.  Although the role of the Canal has diminished through the years as a major transportation route for goods and services, it continues to be an important recreational asset.


            There are approximately 35 miles of public roads located within the Town of St. Johnsville (See Map on the following page).  These consist of State Routes 5 and 67, County and Town Roads.  There are approximately 8 miles of State Highways, 13 miles of County Roads, and 14 miles of Town Roads. 


            The New York State Department of Transportation collects, summarizes, and interprets information on the volume of traffic traveling the State’s highway system.  Each AADT (Annual Average of Daily Traffic) entry represents the number of vehicles traveling over a designated section of highway.  The AADT is the total volume of traffic in both directions.  The table below depicts the latest traffic counts compiled for State Highways 5 and 67 within the Town of St. Johnsville.


   Table :  Traffic Count Data

State Route

Section Length (miles)






Herkimer Co. Line to Bridge Street





Bridge Street to STHWY 67





Route 5 to Fulton County Line



Source:  New York State Dept. of Transportation, 2001 Traffic Volume Report for Montgomery County.



Recreation and Open Space


          Recreational areas help in providing open space for residents and visitors alike.  These areas enhance the Town’s appearance and the economic and social life of the community.  Well maintained open space areas can help to attract tourists and prospective residents, which in turn will generate some much needed revenue for small Towns such as St. Johnsville.  High quality open space areas can also enhance property values and increase their marketability.


            The Town’s biggest recreational asset


            The Erie Canal, or Mohawk River as commonly called, is another major open space asset to the Town.  The Canal is used by many recreational boaters and fisherman during the summer months. 


            There are several scenic water falls within the Town of St. Johnsville.  Scudder’s Falls is located about a half mile from north of the Village near the intersections of Lasselsville Road and State Highway 29.   Klock Park Falls is another scenic water fall and is located  along Crum Creek road across from the Benefit Club.

Community Facilities and Services


            Community facilities and services encompasses such areas as police and fire protection, medical care, educational institutions, and government facilities.  A comprehensive Community Facilities map was prepared and is located on page_____________.


Government Facilities


            The Town of St. Johnsville Town Hall and Highway Garage is located at 7431 State Highway 5.  It houses the Town Clerks, Assessors, Town Justice offices and the Highway Department.  The Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals hold their regular monthly meetings at this location. 


            Most of the Town’s Residents receive their mail through rural route delivery by the United States Postal Service.  There is a U.S. Post Office located in the Village of St. Johnsville, which some residents utilize.


            Garbage collection in the Town____________________________________-


            Water and Sewer is


Police, Fire, and Medical Services


            Police protection in the Town is provided by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police.  The Town residents have access to the County wide E-911 system which is utilized by the Sheriff’s Department.


            The Town of St. Johnsville falls within the 220 Fire District and the 350 EMS Districts.  Fire Service in this district is provided by__________ and EMS service is provided by___________.


Educational Services


            Educational Services for the Towns children are provided by the St. Johnsville Central School District.  Total enrollment for K-12 is 595 students, with a faculty/staff of 52.


Religious Institutions


Historic and Cultural Resources


            There are many historic and cultural resources found throughout the Town that can be attributed to the diverse peoples that have settled here over the past few centuries.  These resources help in fostering a sense of place and identity for the residents of the Town.  These resources also help to promote the economic, educational and general welfare of the community.


            Three sites within the Town that are listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places are Fort Klock, Stone Grist Mill Complex, and Nellis Tavern.


            Fort Klock is located on State Highway 5 about 2 miles east of the Village of St. Johnsville.  Fort Klock, a fortified farm homestead, was built in 1750 by Johannes Clock, and is an excellent and little-altered architectural type example of a mid-18th century fur trading post and fortified stone house structure that was widely used in the Mohawk Valley by settlers as a place of refuge during the French and Indian War, and later, the War of Independence.  The site is owned by Fort Klock Historic Restoration, a non-profit educational organization chartered by the Regents of the State of New York.


            The Stone Grist Mill Complex, located on Mill Road in the Town, is a pre-industrial, water powered grain milling facility.  Situated at a falls created by a steep gorge, the complex consists of a stone grist mill, the remains of the stone impoundment dam, the mill owner’s house, barn, wagon shed and pig house associated with the historical operation at the site.  Today, the complex is home to the “Inn by the Mill” bed and breakfast.


            The Nellis Tavern

Appendix A


Buffer Zone or Buffering When zoning or subdivision regulations require that one land use is "buffered" from another. This is usually done by landscaping, but can be a small, undeveloped zone of land between uses.

Cluster Zoning Where a local zoning ordinance requires that, in certain locations, new homes are grouped onto part of the development parcel, so that the remainder can be preserved as un-built open space. Cluster zoning allows the same overall amount of development that is already permitted.

Conservation Easement A legal device for conveying the right to enforce restrictions on land uses. Allows purchaser to acquire partial rights to a parcel of land instead of acquiring all of the rights.

Density The intensity of development on any given parcel or district. For residential development, density is usually measured as "dwelling units per acre".

Density Bonus When a developer agrees to provide for a community need and in return, the municipality can offer permission to build at a higher density than normally allowed.

Design Standards A local ordinance (can be included in the zoning ordinance) that outlines specific building design standards.

Floodplain A land area adjoining a river, stream, watercourse, ocean, bay, or lake, which is likely to be flooded.

FEMA The Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Goals and Objectives Goals and Objectives form the foundation for the comprehensive plan. They are statements of policy that will give guidance to elected and appointed decision-makers. A Goal is a final purpose which the community wants to reach. It is a general level of policy. It is refined more specifically by objectives. An Objective is a specific, measurable task that can be accomplished. They specify how a goal can be reached.

HUD The United states Department of Housing and Urban Development.

ISTEA The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. This 1991 law authorizes use of Federal Highway Trust Fund monies for programs that relate transportation to open space conservation, recreation, historic preservation and multiple use of roads, among other items.

Karst Refers to features in a region having limestone bedrock that has been dissolved over the years to form cracks, caves and sink-holes. An objective assessment that evaluates parcels through a variety of criteria Including soils, economics, and cultural and scenic importance.

Mixed Use When a variety of land uses such as commercial, residential and agriculture are allowed to be mixed, or located together, in the same district.

NSYDOT The New York State Department of Transportation. A voluntary program administered by the State of New York where roads are inventoried for scenic views. Local communities can, if desired, request the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation to designate priority roads as "scenic".

Official Man Not a zoning map. It is a map that shows both existing and future locations or streets, highways, parks, and drainage ways desired. In this way, these locations can be protected from future development.

Overlay Zone A special zoning district with a set of special regulations that are uniquely tailored to achieve the special results in the overlay district. Overlay districts are superimposed on existing zoning boundaries.

Performance Zoning This allows a variety of uses and great flexibility, yet forces development to meet a specific level of performance. Generally, performance zoning tries to maximize the density allowed (measured in dwellings per acre, not lot size) while maintaining open space, environmental protection and enhancing the overall site design. It encourages mixed uses where possible and is written so that standards are clear and there is less "interpretation". In other words - developments either meet the standard or they don't.

Land Evaluation and Suitability Assessment (LESA) New York State Scenic Byways Program When the development rights to a parcel or parcels of land are either purchased or donated to a municipality or appropriate non-profit organization. When the development rights are purchased or donated, the original landowners retain title to the land, but there is no development allowed. Other uses such as farming or outdoor recreation are allowed.

SEQRA State Environmental Quality Review Act. The purpose of SEQRA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the planning, review, and decision making process of government agencies at the earliest possible times.

Sinkhole A hole or depression in a limestone region that allows surface water to enter a cave or underground passageway.

Strip Development When a narrow strip of commercial development lines one or both sides of a highway or arterial road.

ZBA The Zoning Board of Appeals. 


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