Updates to land use regulations and zoning codes, as per the town’s Comprehensive Plan, were discussed at a Clarkstown Town Hall meeting Tuesday night. Cambridge Systematics, a Massachusetts-based company tasked with studying existing corridor conditions and recommending improvements, presented its findings to approximately 30 people.
“In a lot of the areas, there is a lack of focus,” said Chris Titze of Cambridge Systematics during his presentation to the attendees. “It’s kind of a mix that is occurring in the area right now. Some of the landowners that we spoke with identified that the existing use is not really beneficial to themselves as well as the neighborhood itself.”
“There’s certain other areas where you’re like ‘this could be a place, it’s just missing something,’” said Principal Town Planner Joe Simoes. “And that’s what we’re trying to introduce is that ‘missing something’. It’s kind of creating a sense of place, if you want to sum it up.”
While Cambridge Systematics is responsible for coming up with recommendations for Route 9W, Route 303, Route 304, and Route 59, Tuesday’s meeting dealt exclusively with Route 9W.
Titze said his company examined existing zoning codes and followed that up with a parcel-level analysis along the corridors. The next step was a survey of businesses along Route 9W; the survey asked participants for their vision of the corridor, the types of infrastructure they use, how customers travel, and how facilities are possibly shared. Sixty-five businesses were approached, but only 10 businesses - 15 percent of those approached - responded, according to Titze.
There were five areas of focus on Route 9W, and the company's scope of interest extended from the intersection of 303 and 9W to Christian Herald Road.
“We primarily focused in on only commercial, industrial, multifamily- basically any zoning that was not a residential single-family home zone,” he said. “We are not looking at single-family homes.”
While much of the feedback was that the current conditions were “complimentary,” Cambridge Systematics did identify concerns with the aid of the surveys. These included a.m./p.m. congestion, excessive speeding, access management of facilities, limited biking and pedestrian facilities, weekend parking, and high taxes.
Titze outlined a Route 9W Corridor Concept:
- Maintains and expands the recreational atmosphere and residential offerings adjacent to Rockland State Park, with particular focus near the intersection of Route 9W and Lake Road.
- Offers enhanced pedestrian/bicycle facilities with targeted improvements to improve non-vehicular linkages with the Hamlet of Congers.
- Target commercial development to the north, with a focus on providing opportunities and advancing research/technology-related firms and industries.
- Continues to support existing commercial activities in the near future, but encourages future development to support neighboring uses and character of Route 9W.
Titze said he will continue to seek concerns and ideas from landowners along Route 9W, and Cambridge Systematics plans on providing recommendations at a special town board meeting in February or March.
Those at the meeting expressed concerns and provided ideas of their own. Multiple attendees asked if the state would support these concepts and implement subsequent recommendations, specifically if they breach or challenge state laws such as setback laws, which govern how far a building must be set back from a street. Titze said Cambridge Systematics is actively involved in meetings with the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).
“By the town putting down what they want, and actually creating the zoning to support it, you’re really developing a relationship with NYSDOT and an environment where they’re hopefully supporting you and what you’re doing long term to the Corridors themselves,” he said.
One attendee inquired about state funding and asked how long the improvement process would take.
“This could take a series of years, especially in the current state of transportation infrastructure finance and funding in the state right now,” Titze said. “It’s bleak at best in some instances.”
Multiple attendees asked if bicycle paths were going to be part of the final recommendations. Titze said bicycle paths were being considered.
One attendee suggested inviting landowners to a lunch or dinner to obtain a greater sample of concerns and ideas on Route 9W.
A similar meeting will be held next Monday at the town hall. That presentation will focus on Route 303 and Route 304. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.