Voorheesville adopts comprehensive plan

– From Village of Voorheesville Comprehensive Plan

With the adoption of a comprehensive plan, Voorheesville will soon be rewriting its zoning code. One proposal is to add six zones to the seven that are law already.

VOORHEESVILLE – The board of trustees at its monthly meeting unanimously adopted the proposed comprehensive plan for the village of Voorheesville.

The village will now look to rewrite its zoning code all at once, a process the board expects to go quickly because many proposed zoning changes were included in the most recent update of the plan in May.

In December, Trustee Richard Straut told The Enterprise that the process could take four to five months. Illustrating that point, the board had to extend the expiring moratorium on commercial building in the village for another six months, but it was thought that the moratorium would not need to be extended again because of the anticipated adoption of new zoning laws.

The adopted plan is just that: a plan – not a law.

Any of the land-use regulations that are suggested in the plan would still have to be: drafted; subject to their own public hearing and environmental review; incorporated into the zoning code; and, adopted as law.

The plan, Mayor Robert Conway said at a June 7 public hearing, had been in the works for a year-and-a-half, which, he said, “In the world of comprehensive plans is considered fast-tracked.” Conway was not present at the June 26 trustees meeting when the plan was adopted; he was on vacation.

The plan had to be fast-tracked because two years ago many village residents were upset over a proposed planned unit development district, or PUD, that would have allowed Saint Matthew’s Church to build an apartment complex next to the church and also would have applied to the other half-dozen tracts of 7.5 acres of land in the village.

Stewart’s Shops’ proposal in 2016 to build a new store on the site of the former Smith’s Tavern had been a contributing factor as well in Voorheesville’s decision to develop its first comprehensive land-use plan. That proposal led to the board imposing its first six-month moratorium on commercial building in the village, which has been extended every six months since.

Before the plan had even been adopted, a spokesman for Stewart’s told The Enterprise that it planned on putting Smitty’s up for sale, since proposed zoning recommendations would not allow for a shop to be built.

The plan

Recommendations made by the plan include:

—  Improving streetscapes along Main Street;

– Landscaping improvements to the head of the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail on Grove Street.

– Updating the village’s stormwater planning;

— Promoting small businesses;

— Planning for capital improvements on a five‐year rolling basis;

— Evaluating sewer expansion to Main Street;

— Improving access to the Vly Creek for recreation; and  

— Updating zoning and subdivision laws.

The latest update of the plan includes an appendix called: “Concepts for New Zoning Districts Proposed in Plan.” This is the appendix that will allow the board to implement new zoning laws quickly because it offers specific recommendations “on the purposes, potential uses, and performance expectations for each of the new zoning districts that have been proposed.”

The plan proposes establishing six new zones to the seven that are in the code already.

The six proposed districts are:

– Mixed-Use Business Residential (number 1 on the map), which currently lies in the Industrial Zone:

The plan says that land in this district can be devoted to both residential and non-residential uses, and, that a mix of uses should be allowed, including single, two-family, and multi-family homes as well as space for offices, and service or civic organizations;

– Conservation (number 2 on the map), which currently lies in the Industrial Zone:

Lying in the 100-year floodplain, this proposed district, the plan says, contains regulated wetlands, and is also a village-designated aquifer protection area.

This proposed district should allow for open space or low-impact recreation uses such as trails or pathways, according to the plan. “Very-low density” single-family homes could be feasible if they are permitted by the New York State Departmentment of Environmental Conservation;

– Main Street East (number 3 on the map) and Main Street West (number 4 on the map), which currently lies in the Business A Zone:

The splitting of the districts between East and West, the plans says, is to reflect the different lot configurations in Main Street West and to reflect the more commercial nature of the lots in Main Street East;

– Creekside Commercial (number 5 on the map), which currently lies in the Residential A, Residential B, and Business A zones:

Situated in the Vly Creek  floodplain, the proposed Creekside Commercial district is an important location in the village because it has “a complex set of attributes, land uses, traffic patterns, pedestrian needs, and environmental conditions that must inform the framework for future development here,” the plan says.

That new district, under the proposed plan, would not allow for a Stewart’s Shop let alone one with a gas station attached.

That’s because, as a “use,” Stewart’s Shop “does not promote the desired character for this district.” Specifically, it is a “Formula Business,” which according to the plan is “required by contractual or other arrangements to be virtually identical to businesses in other communities because of standardized architecture, services, merchandise, decor, uniforms and the like”; and

– Multi-family (number 6 on the map), which currently lies in the Residential B Zone:

“This district should allow for multi-family dwellings at a higher density along with accessory uses to serve that development including, but not limited to recreation areas, open space, parking lot, garages, maintenance buildings, and utility structures,” the plan states.

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