Ballston Spa set to pass controversial zoning framework – The Daily Gazette
BALLSTON SPA – As the Village of Ballston Spa struggles to update its comprehensive half-century-old zoning plan, the village is set to pass controversial legislation that will help regulate development in the area. ‘interval.
Proponents say the planned development district’s enabling legislation creates appropriate safeguards to help preserve the character of the village, while opponents say the proposed legislation goes too far and will hinder growth.
The five-member village board is still considering changes to the bill’s legal wording, but with all three members Democrats in favor of the guardrails, the council is likely to approve them within weeks. to come, despite public opposition from the mayor and the chairman of the zoning appeal board.
Ballston Spa’s proposed legislation would set certain development parameters in advance for village plots of at least 15,000 square feet, ranging from requiring energy-efficient lighting to capping the height of buildings along the street. to three stories to requiring sidewalks to be ADA compliant.
The guidelines would require a pre-application meeting with the planning board, an initial review of the project by the board, a neighborhood work session, a detailed review by the planning board and a public hearing, then a final review and vote. by the village board.
The legislation enabling development districts is meant to be a compromise between allowing uncontrolled development under current zoning laws from the 1970s and putting a temporary halt on development, Administrator Ben Baskin said.
“We see this PDD as a compromise. This is a temporary measure until permanent zoning laws are put in place,” Baskin said.
Administrators expect the village’s full permanent zoning plan to be drafted by the end of the year, although the timetable is loose.
The general idea for creating enabling legislation for Development Districts came from former Mayor Larry Woolbright in the first half of last year. But the board ultimately decided that the initial language was too vague. Last summer, the board approved spending over $8,000 to work with Elan Planning, Design & Landscape Architecture to develop an updated draft of the PDD Act that includes a more specific framework than the legislation drafted by former village attorney Stephanie Ferradino under Woolbright. Elan’s framework forms the basis of the current proposed law, although the language continues to be updated.
Baskin also floated the idea last summer of a total moratorium on development in the village until the full zoning plan is complete. But the moratorium discussion was met with heavy public criticism, and the idea was never even voted on.
The current DDA legislation is meant to serve as a compromise between temporarily suspending development and development taking place under outdated standards, supporters said.
“We don’t want to delay development, but we don’t want it to happen under current zoning laws,” said trustee Liz Kormos. Under current law, “you could build something that would be completely irrelevant to the village,” including a “windowless, vinyl-walled four-story box,” Kormos said.
But Mayor Frank Rossi Jr., a Republican, said Democrats are exaggerating zoning issues to install a system that gives the board substantial control over village development.
“Even though they admit that no major development has occurred in some village areas for 50 years, they are suddenly worried that zoning laws are being abused or that owners of properties needing redevelopment need to be vetted,” a said Rossi. “It is not based on any reality and it is a posture that could cause damage to the village if this unnecessary need for control does not stop.”
During the April 25 meeting, Anna Stanko, chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said the proposed DDA legislation shows the board lacks trust in other village councils.
Rossi said the heavy-handed PDD language frightens investors and developers and leads to uncertainty, especially as a more permanent global plan looms on the horizon.
One such potential development site is the former Angelica Textile factory at 125 Bath Street, owned by Jim Beaudoin. Following an environmental cleanup, the site was cleared for reuse by the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2019, but it has yet to be developed. In a letter to Rossi, which the mayor provided to The Daily Gazette, Beaudoin said he was “concerned” about the PDD legislation.
“The proposed ‘Temporary DPD’ legislation seems counter-intuitive to any goal of spurring redevelopment and goes against the economic development plan the village had established to achieve such community redevelopment,” Beaudoin wrote to the mayor. .
But on Monday, Baskin defended the legislation as a way to prevent the village from being exploited by a developer. He said a vague PDD law allows a developer to dictate the terms of a project, forcing the village to respond from a defensive position.
“[This law] puts the village in a stronger position,” Baskin said. “He says to the developer, here’s what we think is important. Climb inside that. We want to tell you that these are the design considerations – fit into it.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.
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