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Malta tackles growing pains

Officials fine tuning new downtown zoning code, gazebo will stay put

Town of Malta Councilwomen Tara Thomas, (background) and Maggi Ruisi listen as other members share their thoughts on some of the details of the drafted form-based code zoning. Town officials have been refining the zoning plan for several months.

Town of Malta Councilwomen Tara Thomas, (background) and Maggi Ruisi listen as other members share their thoughts on some of the details of the drafted form-based code zoning. Town officials have been refining the zoning plan for several months. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— Officials in the Town of Malta have spent the last few months tackling a zoning initiative that would set the way forward for the downtown area, and plans are starting to come into focus.

Since late March, officials in Malta have been hammering out form-based code zoning regulations, and they continued that task at a Monday, Aug. 20, workshop that lasted more than three hours.

A form-based code zoning plan would create more specific regulations than what’s in the current code, under which many projects have to be examined individually as planned development districts. Instead, smaller zones would be given specific parameters like building height and setbacks for developers to meet. Planning for the downtown area has become an increasingly important topic with the arrival of GlobalFoundries and ancillary development.

The Code Studio, based in Texas, presented a draft zoning map at the meeting. Joining the Town Board by phone on Monday was Code Studio Principal Lee Ensweiler. Issues still to left to be addressed include building height limits along Route 9 and identification of commercial and residential zones.

During the meeting, it was decided the height of buildings at the Parade Ground Village would be capped at two stories instead of three. Open space would be left there for community events, as well.

“I think it would meet everybody’s needs in terms of reducing the intensity of what’s going on on that site,” said Ensweiler.

Discussion about the placement of the town’s gazebo, now located at Routes 9 and 67, has gone back and forth during the zoning process, and Monday’s workshop was no different.

“It’s something that’s a visual element that people would want to take pictures at … and a number of other possible places including near Town Hall or (closer) to the Parade Ground Village,” said Ensweiler.

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