Accessory Dwellings to Move Ahead in Beacon?

Hip Lofts expansion, new water meters also on council agenda

The City Council appears close to setting a public hearing on a draft law it has considered for nearly a year that would simplify the process for creating accessory dwelling unit (ADU) apartments in single-family residential zones — which comprise the vast majority of the land in Beacon. 

Before setting a hearing, however, the council decided on Monday (June 27) to send the proposal to the Planning Board for its review. The Planning Board first weighed in last year, saying it supports a move to simplify the creation of ADUs. 

The ADU discussion began after Mayor Lee Kyriacou suggested streamlining the law to encourage homeowners to create smaller, affordable apartments on their properties.

In her 2022-23 state budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul also included a proposal that would have required municipalities to allow ADUs on lots zoned for single- or multi-family construction, but removed it after opposition from groups such as the Association of Towns of the State of New York. However, the state’s adopted budget does include $85 million for the creation or rehabilitation of ADUs as a means of incentivizing alternative housing options. 

ADUs are the only additional units that can be built in Beacon’s single-family zones. Only nine have been proposed in the last six years because a property owner must go through an onerous Planning Board review process that often ends up costing thousands of dollars. All nine were approved, but “it’s a torturous process,” planning consultant John Clarke told the council on Monday. 

The draft law would increase in single-family districts the maximum square footage permitted for accessory units to 50 percent (not to exceed 1,000 square feet or be less than 200 square feet) of the total square footage of a property’s principal building. Only one ADU would be permitted per single-family lot. 

The owner of the property would have to live on-site, and ADUs could not be used as short-term rentals.

Unless there are single-family houses in the district, multi-family zoning districts would be unchanged, with the maximum square footage for an accessory unit 40 percent of the square footage of the principal building.

Planning Board review would still be required unless the ADU is created inside an existing house, with no new construction. In those cases, the city’s building inspector could approve the project. 

Council Member Dan Aymar-Blair said on Monday that he would like to continue honing the proposal while the Planning Board reviews the draft. A house, an accessory apartment and space for parking could clutter the city’s smaller single-family lots, he said. 

Hip Lofts expansion proposal

The developer of the Lofts at Beacon intends to bring a proposal to the Planning Board for a two-story mixed-use building that would add 28 one-bedroom lofts and 30,000 square feet of commercial space to the apartment complex along Fishkill Creek. 

The City Council is expected to approve a resolution on Tuesday (July 5) sending the project to the Planning Board. A law enacted in 2017 requires the council’s conceptual approval of building proposals in the Fishkill Creek development zone, although the Planning Board is still responsible for ironing out details such as parking or architectural features during its review. 

The complex, also known as the Hip Lofts, was approved by the Planning Board in 2016 for 172 rental units. The lot pegged for new construction is currently vacant. 

Design sketches show the Fishkill Creek Greenway and Heritage Trail running between the proposed building and Fishkill Creek. The sketches also show a 95-space parking lot. 

‘Smart’ water meters 

Beacon households will receive notice this fall from the city’s Water Department that they must provide access for the city to install new “smart” water meters, which use a cloud-based connection to provide more accurate usage readings.

The changes are part of ongoing water-system infrastructure upgrades; about 300 households with older meters will receive all-new devices. Most households will have new hardware installed allowing their meters to communicate with the city’s database.

The City Council is expected to vote on Tuesday on a law that would impose a $250 penalty for households that are notified but do not schedule installation (which should take 10 to 15 minutes, City Administrator Chris White said). The city will attempt three notifications before penalties are assessed.

There is no additional cost to users for the new meters or hardware, White said.

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