When the town’s proposed master zoning plan takes effect, some of the town’s agricultural and residential land will be changed to mixed-commercial/residential zoning. This proposal left some feeling the town was taking away property rights from residents.
“When you’re taking people vested in a property and telling them what the land will become, you’re basically taking it away from them,” said Kevin George, a resident skeptical of the upcoming zoning changes in town.
At the first public meeting for the New Scotland Hamlet Zoning Study, held Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Voorheesville High School, Project Manager Marian Hull addressed community concerns such as George’s, and explained the changes the new zoning will bring to the town.
In answer to George, Hull said all landowners whose property’s zoning will be changed will be met with to discuss concerns. And while the town does not plan on buying anyone’s land from them, new zoning will “guide how development occurs,” in town, allowing future businesses to buy former residential and agriculturally-zoned lands. Hull said the town is not taking away anyone’s land, or the rights of property owners.
An estimated 1,000 residence, 400 dwellings and 59,000 square feet of retail space are estimated to be added as a result of the increased development new zoning will allow. These numbers only look at changes that will occur to vacant land after it has been developed. In previous meetings, it was deemed the current roadways and school system would be able to handle these increases.
As the town’s zoning stands now, three sections exist: one for agricultural land, one for residential land and one for commercial land. New zoning will see current residential land changed to mixed commercial/residential zoning and expanded into current agriculturally-zoned lands, thus decreasing the amount of open space and farm land available in the town.
Conserved green space will maintain land deemed necessary natural resources, while at the same time, expanding commercial/residential zones to attract new living and working areas to New Scotland.
“The concept is to save some green space, while at the same time expanding retail,” said Hull.
Commercial/residential developments would require the creation of sidewalks, which would make the town more walk-able. Other provisions on development will be added based on resident input.
In the long run, it is these changes that will bring more money to the town and ultimately decrease taxes. In new mixed commercial zones, small retail businesses and two story dwellings can be created, requiring the creation of new sidewalks, but not large industrial factories or large big-box retailers.
As Hull pointed out, development will only occur in the far future and these changes also might not ever happen if substantial donors do not come forward to make major updates to the town’s roadways, water and sewer systems. “When you see the numbers and see that they’re big, understand that this is a large area that would take a long time to develop,” said Hull.
For context, the Colonie Golf and Country Club, the 230-home Mansions in Delmar and Crossgates Mall could sit in a section that comprises a little over 100 acres – a small section of the 670 acres of undeveloped, vacant land that the study is looking at.
Using poster board presentations, community members gave their input on ideas such as having businesses roadside in the proposed Hamlet center, a town square described as an “upstate New York village commerce center” by Hull. An online survey is also available, with questions for residents, which will help guide future decisions for the zoning advisory committee.
The study advisory committee is spearheaded by Hull, with members of the Albany County Planning Board, the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), New York State Department of Transportation, Capital District Transportation Authority, Architect Rand DeFranko and members of the New Scotland community Paul Kelly and Steve Reilly.
Rezoning was paid for by a 2011 grant from the CDTC Linkage Program. In 2014 the AECOM company was chosen to carry out the study. Three advisory committee meetings have occurred since then, and two more advisory meetings will occur before the next public workshop set for early January.
More information on the study is available at townofnewscotlan.com/232CDTC-Study-Advisory-Committee.com. To participate in feedback, a new website, newscotlandzoning.blogspot.com is available.