Albany County rejects New Scotland zoning law

A public hearing on New Scotland's latest commercial zoning law has been canceled as the Albany County Planning Board decided it lacks provisions dealing with density.

A public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, was canceled after the Albany County Planning Board did not approve the Town of New Scotland's zoning law, Local Law B, calling for an 85,000-square-foot size cap on retail development. Town Board member Rich Reilly drafted the law.

The county planning board reviewed the law and determined it did not address the issue of density, and therefore needs to be revisited. Density refers to the number of stores or shopping centers that would occupy the more than 300-acre commercial zone.

The consequences of multiple shopping centers with retail businesses occupying 85,000 square feet, each with significant regional draw, at or near the proposed development caps, is unacceptable in terms of cumulative impacts, the board stated in its decision.

In its denial of the local law, the county board also cites the effects of state and county roadways, law enforcement, health, safety, noise, solid waste production, and "erosion, flooding, leaking and draining problems, the removal or destruction of large quantities of vegetation or fauna, visual and aesthetic impacts and related impacts to adjacent municipalities."

Michael DeVall, the chair of the county planning board, said the potential effects of a number of small shopping centers in the commercial zone could have a "multiplicity of impacts."

"The primary theme revolves around density," DeVall said. "[We are concerned] with how much is going to happen in one place."

DeVall said the county planning board did not make any official recommendation on a size cap for retail developments. "To our way of thinking, that's more a local issue," DeVall said.

DeVall said the county planning board is charged with officially with looking at issues as they pertain to the broad impacts, and officially offers its approval in county matters, but they can offer guidance for the municipality.

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