BLOOMING GROVE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AND ZONING REVISIONS
GOING TO COUNTY PLANNING
A Final Review Could Have LaGuardia NNI Zoning Ready Soon
By Edie Johnson
Blooming Grove – Workshop Sessions often have the feeling of cramming for 3 graduate course finals in the span of about 2 hours. This week was no exception and was educational, inspiring and exhaustive, the product of which is a look at the long awaited final drafts for their Comprehensive Plan and new zoning.
Comprehensive Planning & Zoning Changes
With a comprehensive plan, cover report, and zoning changes that began revision in 2017 but have not had their final official update since 2005, Town Planner Bonnie Franson and her associates at Nelson Pope & Voorhis, have been diligently reviewing and revising final details over the past several years, particularly since there are several projects possible in the wings for the Camp LaGuardia property that is located within the new NNI (Non-Nuisance Industry) District; that is, small industry, warehouse and several special use retail uses with the caveat of having minimal environmental impact. The revisions would also address the existing ORI districts. Its complexity and comments by Franson are requiring a final fresh look by all Town Board Members/Ward Representatives who will review the final DRAFT over the weekend and plan to send it to Orange County Planning Department for their 30-day review that will begin next Tuesday. After the County’s 30-day look they will either agree in whole, or in part. If “in part” they will likely recommend a few minor changes. If they disagree with any portions, the town can either take the recommendations under advisement, or keep those parts of the document “as is” if there is a supermajority vote.
Tiers Recommended for Large Projects
The final look will assess an option to split large projects into several “tiers”, with Town Board review of any that are particularly large (such as a project still in discussion for Great Wolf Lodge, and alternative possibility of a Marriot Hotel). For example: Currently there is no distinction between the process of approving a 100-room hotel vs. a 500-room hotel, and they would both only require site plan approval. Rural Crossroads buildings include sizes up to 40,000 sq. ft. The primary condition for any of these upper tier projects (that would include projects over a certain footprint, height, impact on infrastructure, the need for buffering and the like, would be that it would pass through Town Board approval BEFORE going to the town’s Planning Board. Board members will compare a list of existing area business structures to determine the best ‘tipping point’ for sending it to Town Board first. This will be a major step toward careful town development since any NNI development at both LaGuardia and Route 17M will have a chance to begin the process. Much of the potential NNI or ORI development is within Ward 6, represented by Steven Amante.
The pending issues that Supervisor Jeroloman and board members will review prior to dispatch to county later this week are: what height, footprint and other impacts will be the deciding factors that will determine whether to first go to Town Board; whether Entertainment Venues (with strict conditions) will be permitted in NNI, whether to remove small retail business from Rural Residential zones, among a few other criteria.
Franson added that the Cover report that the Economic Addendum and Development Update to the 2005 Comprehensive Plan that details the reasons behind the potential zoning revisions (primarily to develop without negative impact on the rural character of the Town) was never officially adopted, and needs a vote. The report is especially important because as she said “It sets the stage for the Zoning Regulations.”
She pointed out that while the majority of land on the LaGuardia site is located in Chester, much of the buildable land is in Blooming Grove. Also, new state codes treat Re-use of certain buildings differently (such as the ones currently on the LaGuardia Site). They would better be served by requiring their own Special Use Permit process. This might affect a decision whether to retain any of those buildings. Office/ Industrial zoning that allowed “mixed use” (allowing apartments) will probably have the mixed use portion removed. And trade or vocational training schools will likely be removed to promote tax positive development.
Highway Program Reviewed The first round of discussion covered a discussion between Highway Superintendent Wayne Kirkpatrick, town board members, and the needs and finances of the Highway Department as projected over the next 3 years along with the advisability of borrowing a larger sum than the usual annual highway budget in order to catch up on some roads that have been falling farther and farther behind, and thus get on a schedule that would be much closer to a long term town wide road program of renewal.
The plan includes road repairs addressing issues at various areas of town so people can appreciate the effort to include everyone. Along with descriptions of the road work needed, we got a tutorial in road construction options, like the benefits of adding concrete or calcium to the paving process to build stability when the base underneath is weak, and the criteria used to determine condition and relative need to repair (anything below 75 on a scale of 100 being considered sub-par and in need of serious attention.