RCBJ-Audible (Listen For Free)
The Town of Clarkstown’s Planning Board tonight will present the town’s newly unveiled Comprehensive Plan Update and Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. The town will hold its first public hearing on the plan June 1.
Titled “Focused on the Future,” the updated comprehensive plan seeks to address some of the changing needs of the town since its last update in 2009.
With the update of the plan, Clarkstown is hoping to make the town more inviting to businesses through land-use and other decisions.
Among its top goals, the plan calls for making “zoning changes to create and expand commercial and industrial development,” in parts of the town with existing infrastructure, and in zones that do not conflict with residential enclaves. The report is not specific, however, town officials concede that the decline in retail, along with pandemic’s shift in retail, warehousing, office buildings and other uses, creates an inflection point for how the town’s properties are best utilized.
Most significantly, the town’s new economic goals include new zoning designations to permit housing in underutilized retail areas, as well as re-using and repurposing vacant or empty commercial spaces. The town has its eye on trying to attract commercial uses including data centers, biotechnology, film production, satellite offices, to name a few.
The plan’s narrative is divided into seven sections: Economic Development; Environmental Resources; Health Safety & Welfare; Historic & Cultural Resources; Housing; Recreation Parks & Open Space; Transportation; and, Sustainability & Resiliency. Each section makes key recommendations for the future.
The section on Economic Development contemplates zoning changes to create and expand commercial and industrial development while protecting existing residential uses, foster new and existing businesses, create connections between the commercial and educational institutions, explore residential uses in underutilized commercial areas and to consider the implementation of a program permitting the transfer or development rights.
The section on Environmental Resources recommends the continued acquisition of open space to protect sensitive environmental areas and to preserve natural habitats, limiting total development coverage in all zoning districts, implement design standards for future construction, designation of Critical Environmental Areas, and to add a requirement for the elimination or mitigation of noise, dust, odor and light pollution as a condition for site plan approval.
The section on Housing suggests permitting apartments over businesses, the creation of a set aside in new developments for workforce and/or volunteer housing, obtaining town rights of first refusal for parcels that may become available for future residential development, and plans to add housing units for seniors of all income levels and lifestyles.
Other sections of the plan call for greater attention to historic resources and recreational opportunities, including the installation of artificial turf at Zukor Park and possibly a domed sports stadium.