Halfmoon zoning changes

Halfmoon resident Brad Konopaske asks a question of the Town Board at a public hearing last week on amendments to the town's zoning map.

HALFMOON, N.Y. — With completed studies in hand from two advisory committees and after holding five workshops on proposed revisions to the town’s zoning map and its planning regulations, the Town Board has unanimously finalized changes to both.

The zoning revisions make changes to areas along Hudson River Road (Routes 4 and 32), Crescent Road, the eastern section of Route 146, and Route 9. The revisions will also create a small business redevelopment overlay district in five locations.

Changes in the planning code include establishing a cluster zoning provision, increasing residential building setbacks and buffers, reducing negative stormwater impacts of large developments, eliminating temporary certificates of occupancy, and clarifying the enforcement authority for construction that requires a Certificate of Compliance.  

The changes are the result of many months of work by the town Zoning Review Committee, the Business and Economic Development Committee, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, and town staff. The purpose behind them was to propose positive and strategically planned changes to the town’s local laws to ensure continued managed growth in the community.

The zoning changes on Hudson River Road are centered on multiple zoning designations from the Waterford line north to the boundary with the City of Mechanicville.

The area will now have three zoning designations. From south to north they are Waterfront Commercial (W-2), Waterfront Mixed Use (W-1), and Clean Manufacturing (M-2).

In the southernmost section, that area from the Waterford line to Brookwood Road, the zoning will change from Industrial-Residential (IR) to Waterfront Commercial. The intent of this zoning is to provide flexibility in allowable used, to provide residences in town with waterfront access opportunities, retail and service operations, and to foster mixed uses.

The allowable uses include all those permitted in the newly created M-2 and W-1 designations.

In the area between Brookwood Road and Upper Newtown Road, the town changed the zoning from a mix of Industrial, Light Industrial-Commercial, Agricultural Residential, and R-1 Residential to the W-1, Waterfront Mixed Use zoning designation. The intent of the Waterfront Mixed Use zone is to provide a greater variety of allowable uses while restricting manufacturing and encouraging dense levels of mixed residential and commercial businesses.

Proposed uses include professional offices, medical facilities, restaurants, bars, marinas, B and B’s, single-family homes, spas, barber shops, beauticians, and small retail stores. Two family homes will need a Special Use Permit to build here.

In the northern section, the area between Upper Newtown Road and the Mechanicville line, the town has changed the zoning from Industrial, Light Industrial-Commercial, and Residential to the new M-2, Clean Manufacturing zoning. The intent of the Clean Manufacturing district is to provide an area for clean technology manufacturing businesses taking advantage of the existing rail infrastructure and waterfront access. 

Proposed uses include manufacturing, merchandise serving the technology industry, tool making, non-hazardous testing facilities, labs, professional offices, and assembly firms with products that have been made off-site.

The changes to the zoning along Crescent Road will affect all parcels fronting the road currently zoned Professional Office-Residential (PO-R), and Residential-3 (R-3). These parcels are now zoned Commercial-1 (C-1).

For the land fronting the eastern section of Route 146, between the intersection of Route 146 and Pruyn Hill Road and the intersection of Route 146 and Farm to Market Road, the new zoning map has rezoned what was formerly Agriculture-Residential (A-R) to Commercial (C-I).

Zoning changes to sections of Route 9 were made to just two parcels fronting the road having Agriculture-Residential (A-R) zoning. These parcels will now be zoned Commercial.

The small business redevelopment overlay district affects specific areas along Route 146, Grooms Road, Sitterly Road, Crescent Road, and Jones Road.

“We have a lot of small homes and businesses on smaller lots here,” Town Planning Director Rich Harris said at an earlier workshop. “The purpose of these changes is to encourage the redevelopment of the parcels that do not presently meet the minimum area requirements of the underlying zoning. These are some of our most heavily used roads. The changes we’re recommending will allow them to be redeveloped.”

To be included in this overlay designation the parcels along these particular roads must be in a C-1 Commercial or Professional Office-Residential (PO-R) zoning district.

As this was a public hearing, the Town Board took comments from the public. Several residents of the Sheldon Hills development expressed their concern with the zoning change to land adjacent to their backyards. The land is now zoned Agricultural and was to be changed to Commercial.

Most of the remarks expressed their desire that the rural character they’ve viewed for so long be maintained. Others, like Brad Konopaske, wondered how the landowners were taking the changes.

“I find it hard to believe that a farmer wants agricultural land to be zoned commercial due to the tax breaks that are given to agricultural land,” he said.

Harris assured the residents that any development of the land will be reviewed by the Planning Board before approvals.

“Planning has a tradition and history of asking developers to work with adjacent neighbors on buffering and setbacks,” he said. “PDDs are different. The Town Board must approve those. I think [the Planning Department and Planning Board] does a very good job with buffering.”

On the issue of establishing a cluster zoning option for the Planning Board, Harris said the new designation of a Cluster Residential designation will allow the Planning Board to consider clustered subdivisions when it is in the best interests of the town and after weighing a cluster design against a conventional subdivision design. Cluster Residential will replace the designation, Conservation Residential, in the town code.

A cluster design puts single-family homes on smaller lots that are close together, leaving more of the development’s land around the perimeter open.

Restrictions being proposed for this designation state that cluster development may be built only in R-1 or A-R zones.

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