State grant promotes ‘smart growth’ policies
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
The Village of Cold Spring this week won $75,000 in New York State grant funds to begin revamping its zoning code by – among other measures – increasing the stock of multi-family housing (in part to accommodate a projected 20 percent increase in population), streamlining the site-plan approval process for certain projects, and re-doing the Chestnut Street business corridor to cut dependence on cars.
State Sen. Terry Gipson announced the grant, given through the Regional Economic Development Awards program, in a statement Wednesday evening (Dec. 11).
Cold Spring’s prospective rezoning would complete a process launched with the drafting, and subsequent adoption (in 2012) of the village comprehensive plan and would reflect that plan as well as the Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy, accepted by the state in 2011, and the pending, full-scale Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, whose approval by the state depends upon zoning changes.
According to the grant application the state evaluated before supplying the money, the envisioned rezoning would make Cold Spring “a model smart-growth community for Putnam County and the region.” The grant application states that the current zoning, adopted in 1967, fostered suburban-style development, not the type characteristic of a historic, self-sufficient village. The village’s consulting firm, Greenplan Inc., of Rhinebeck, prepared the application.
The application says the rezoning would result in the addition of 405 residents by 2050. As the population is now almost exactly 2,000 people, adding 405 residents represents an increase of 20 percent. To serve everyone, the application foresees reducing the percentage of single-family homes and increasing the percentage of multi-family homes in the village. Although single-family housing would continue to dominate, the application anticipates that it would decline from approximately 50 percent of overall stock to about 43 percent by the year 2050; conversely, multi-family housing would increase from being 30 percent of the mix to 40 percent.
In particular, the rezoning would focus on three areas: the old Butterfield Hospital property, currently the subject of controversial redevelopment efforts; the vacant former Marathon battery plant site, on Kemble Avenue, once the home to a factory whose toxic pollution prompted a major Superfund cleanup of the Hudson River; and the existing Chestnut Street commercial corridor, location of two suburban-style shopping centers, the Foodtown and Drug World strips and catering to “auto-oriented commercial uses.”
All three, under the anticipated rezoning, would be redeveloped “as walkable, mixed-use areas,” as suggested in the comprehensive plan, LWRS, and LWRP. A mixed-use approach allows development serving more than one purpose, such as putting housing, offices and shops, and “live-work” structures, in a single complex or neighborhood.
The application sees the Butterfield tract as containing 55 multi-family units and three single-family homes, with 83 residents living there. [Under the present Butterfield concept plan, the 55 units would be condominiums for retiree-age residents.] The Marathon site would get 10 single-family homes, 14 duplexes or two-family houses; and 50 multi-family units, accommodating 240 of the anticipated 405 new village residents. Another 82 additional residents would live in housing to be built as “infill” using space on existing lots around the village.
The rezoning would provide that the Chestnut Street, Marathon, and Butterfield districts “would have different area and bulk regulations, uses, and design standards, appropriate for each area, for streetscapes, site layout, architecture, parking, landscaping, etc., to ensure that development and redevelopment of these areas is consistent with historic village neighborhoods.” Likewise, each would offer “a variety of housing types and sizes, consistent with traditional village neighborhoods, to accommodate a variety of age and income groups and residential preferences.”
Moreover, the application states, enabling redevelopment of the three sites and infill parcels, the rezoning “will create construction and related jobs in the village for years and perhaps decades, supporting the overall health of the regional economy through a vibrant housing market. The [rezoning] project will allow for economic investment in an existing center with transit access because the current zoning of these three sites and other areas of the village is outmoded. The new zoning will allow for mixed-uses in a setting where residents will be able to walk to services and jobs, thereby promoting small business” and “revitalize the village” in conformance with the waterfront revitalization strategy.
Among other points, the application foresees the rezoning as:
- Streamlining zoning reviews for new development and redevelopment, such as “green” energy-efficient construction, that meets village goals
- Enhancing walkability by “prohibiting drive-in, drive-through, and auto-oriented uses” and building sidewalks and taking action to calm traffic flows
- Encouraging use of renewable energy, “including wind power, micro-hydroelectric, solar, and possibly tidal turbine power”
- Implementing parking regulations or standards that encourage sharing of parking spaces and give preferential parking to energy-efficient “green vehicles”
- Prohibiting outright demolition of existing structures to allow time for studying other options
- Revising the historic district standards to take into consideration solar panels.
On July 25, by a unanimous vote, the Cold Spring Village Board decided to ask Greenplan to prepare the application. The extent to which the board discussed the contents of the application before it was submitted is not clear.
The grant application predicts that the rezoning effort would get underway in January 2014 and end with adoption by the Village Board of a new zoning code in June 2015.