Far-reaching zoning changes subject of public hearing

Changes proposed for the Village of Chester focus on multi-unit housing developments


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Photos



  • The BT Holdings site showing the portion of the parcel that was annexed from town to village.



Proposed changes

Would allow multifamily dwellings of three or more units, where previously the town's residential zoning was restricted to two-family dwellings
Allow multi-family units with one or two bedrooms at a density of up to eight units per acre.
Allow multi-family units with three or more bedrooms at a density of up to six units per acre.
Change the definition of height, allowing for taller buildings.
Change the definition of townhouse from being limited to a two-story unit to units that simply share a common wall and have individual access.
By Nathan Mayberg

By Ginny Privitar
— The Chester Village Board will be listening to comments from the public about far-reaching changes to its zoning law.

A public hearing on the changes will be held at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 8, at village hall, 47 Main Street.

The changes primarily affect RM (Residential Multiple) zoning, where the proposed BT Holdings condominium development will be built, re-define what is allowed in multi-unit housing developments.

The zoning changes of 2013 have gone through several revisions that reduced the influence of the village planning board, which has made three responses. The matter was discussed again at the Aug. 26 planning board meeting.

The most recent version of Proposed Local Law 4 of 2013 keeps some of the village’s changes favorable to the BT Holdings developer, Frank Nussbaum, and restores some authority to the planning board.

There have been so many changes to the document, it's difficult to tell the most recent version from earlier ones — difficulty is compounded by the lack of a date on each version.

Some members of the village board, including Mayor Phil Valastro and former and present Trustee Carole Duffy, have been favorably disposed to the changes sought by Nussbaum. According to the mayor, Philip Valastro, the full board did not make the changes. A committee that included himself, former Trustee Phil Roggia and village attorney Ian Schlanger wrote the previous version that sought to strip the planning board of its overseeing authority.

A subsequent public hearing on the same matter turned out to be a public relations nightmare for the village. A one-time newspaper notice and the board's intention to vote on the matter right after the hearing had residents saying the process was rushed, and that they were being kept in the dark. Even the planning board chair, Rick Ramsdell, objected that he received the village’s revised proposal just hours before the expected hearing and vote, with no time to review it.

Trustee Tom Bell said he was not going to vote without further study of the public comments. The vote did not take place.

Many residents saw the proposed zoning changes as an accommodation for BT Holdings. But Nussbaum has made many changes to his original plan, including reducing the number of residential units. The original plan of 458 units was reduced in a stipulation agreement by 118 units. No less than 100 of the remaining units are to be age-restricted, and a maximum of 340 residential townhouses/condos, for a total of 440 units, will be allowed. Nussbaum also removed four planned buildings adjacent to the Talmadge property line so the view would not be impaired.

Still, critics say, “Why change the zoning code, which will affect future projects as well?” They believe the developer should seek variances rather than to change the code.

Proposed changes in the zoning law will affect everyone. They will determine how the village looks, the cost of public services, the ease of travel on local roads and more.

The village’s most recent version of the proposed changes may be found on the village website (villageofchesterny.com) at the far right column, second box down, under “Village Monthly Board meeting." Click on “Revised LL RM zone changes.”

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