Public hearing set for April 26
Cold Spring is on the final leg of a journey that began in 1967, when the village enacted its zoning law.
The Village Board, at its Wednesday (April 19) meeting, continued its discussion of an extensive update of that zoning, Chapter 134 of the village code, which details how land within the village can be used.
A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday (April 26) at Village Hall. Residents can attend in person or via Zoom and submit comments through May 16.
The update is needed in part because the zoning was based on land-use regulations designed for postwar suburban communities, not a village incorporated in 1846.
For residents, one consequence of that has been the need to routinely apply for variances from village boards, even for minor changes, which costs time and money. That burden, for residents as well as board members, will be lessened under the new zoning, which reduces the number of “nonconforming” situations.
The comprehensive plan, adopted in 2012 and intended to protect the small-town, historic and diverse character of the village, went so far as to state that Cold Spring could not be rebuilt under its existing zoning.
The proposed update will bring regulations into harmony with the comprehensive plan, a requirement of New York State law.
The update will also enable the village to move forward with its Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. That initiative, through which the village can access federal and state grants for various projects, was put on hold in 2012 pending completion of the revised zoning.
In the updated Chapter 134, zoning for the former Marathon Battery site will change from industrial to planned mixed-use, following a comprehensive plan recommendation that the 12-acre site be “well integrated in the fabric of the community.”
Commenting on Marathon’s future development, Mayor Kathleen Foley said lessons were learned when the last large property in the village was redeveloped — the former Butterfield Hospital site on Route 9D.
“Details were looked at first and then the overall picture,” she said. “Analyses should have happened earlier, and the public didn’t have an understanding of the overall impact of the project until very late in the game.”
Foley said the proposed zoning change contains several elements to ensure that situation is not repeated at Marathon.
“We want the village to be in the driver’s seat,” she said. “And we want the public to be engaged at every step. “
Zoning will also change for Mayor’s Park and the highway garage, from industrial to parks and recreation, and civic uses, respectively.
During public comment at the meeting, Michael Reisman expressed concern that meetings of the ad hoc working group on the zoning update meetings held over the past three months were not open to the public. Village attorney John Furst said that because ad hoc committees are only advisory and don’t make decisions, they are not subject to the Open Meetings Law.
Tara Vamos advocated inclusion of housing that would be affordable for middle-income residents as part of any redevelopment of the Marathon site.
Mike Armstrong asked that an exception to maximum-height restrictions for buildings in flood-prone areas be considered in light of the expected significant rise in sea levels over the next 50 years. He also advocated changing the 2½ story maximum for homes in the proposed “large residential lot” section be changed to three stories, pointing out that his three-story home on Morris Avenue would not conform.
The proposed update is posted at bit.ly/cold-spring-zoning, along with Chapter 134 and a PowerPoint presentation from April 19 on its development and major elements.