Christopher Titze of Cambridge Systematics told the town board on Tuesday that some of the zoning near Rockland Lake State Park is out of character with the neighborhood. The consultant said sections that are currently zoned for Regional Shopping would be more appropriate if zoned differently.
Titze said changing the zoning to Neighborhood Shopping (NS) would fit better with the residential area along Lake Road and near the park. He said that change would also allow business owners more flexibility in improving or changing their existing properties.
“Regional Shopping (RS) from what we’ve heard and at the public meetings from landowners is not really an appropriate use next to Rockland Lake State Park,” he explained. “RS, this zoning allows for commercial intensities that are out of scale with the neighborhood in this area.”
He proposed replacing the Regional Shopping zoning with Neighborhood Shopping zoning, which would allow small stores, restaurants, and office space. Another aspect would permit one floor of apartments over commercial businesses. That recommendation and others for the corridors were referred to the town’s planning board and the county planning department. If they move forward, they would eventually be the subjects of a public hearing before any official zoning changes were approved.
As part of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, Cambridge Systematics examined the existing zoning codes along the three roadways, conducted a parcel use analysis, surveyed property owners and held public workshops last year on their proposed corridor concepts. The presentation given Tuesday night focused on the land use alternatives and zoning code options.
“It’s a cleanup of a mix of uses that are there right now,” Titze said.
Titze said the study primarily looked at non-residential districts and 1,400 parcels along the three corridors. The Neighborhood Shopping proposal would cover 17 parcels on 20 acres. 11 of those properties are situated along Route 9W and six are on Route 304.
Part of the recommendation for Route 9W was to expand the recreational atmosphere and residential areas near the state park. He specified areas of opportunity along the Congers corporate corridor and Lake Road neighborhood.
Titze said professional office space should be encouraged along Route 303 and that highway’s areas of opportunity were located along the Congers corporate corridor and Valley Cottage commercial center. On Route 304, he suggested promoting the hamlet center to alert people they were approaching it. One of its areas of opportunity is the Route 304 and Germonds Road intersection. In some places, the commercial zoning should be converted.
Titze also spoke about alternatives such as allowing special permit multifamily housing for a total of 212 dwelling units. He mentioned development bonuses that could be offered for developers who reduce storm water runoff or receive LEED “green building” certification.
“We realize the zoning in these areas don’t make a lot of sense for property owners,” he said.