Stony Point zoning proposals cover townhouses, accessory apartments


zoningSTONY POINT — A once-stalled effort to update the town’s comprehensive plan might soon be completed as the Town Board considers a variety of changes to its zoning code.

In 2006, Stony Point formed a committee to determine whether its 1995 master plan should be amended, and if so, what areas needed to be updated.

Seven years have passed since, and the town’s leadership changed twice.

But the master-plan amendments haven’t been forgotten.

The Town Board will likely hold a public hearing to consider zoning-code amendments to reflect the revised master plan at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at James A. Farley Elementary School.

Stony Point Town Planner Max Stach said making changes to the zoning code would be essential as the final step of the master plan update process.

“The master plan doesn’t have any force of law, but the zoning code does,” Stach said. “The master plan says what should be done and the zoning code does it.”

Proposed zoning-code changes include creating new rules that would allow townhouse developments, residential mixed-use sites in the business district, and accessory apartments to single-family houses.

Stach said although the town already has townhouse developments, such as the Liberty Ridge senior-housing complex on Route 9W, the existing zoning code generally doesn’t allow such developments.

“The master plan recommends townhouses because it recognizes that that is a less impactful type of development,” Stach said. “Stony Point has a lot of steep slopes, wetlands, natural wooded areas that it want to preserve.”

The proposed zoning code would allow a developer to build townhouses at the same density as the underlining zoning.

For instance, on a 50-acre lot in a one-home-per-acre zoning area, 50 townhouses would be allowed, although those units would be clustered in a smaller area, keeping the rest of the space from being built up.

The proposed code also includes certain exceptions where slightly higher-density development can be allowed.

Frank Collyer, a member of the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment, said he didn’t think encouraging townhouse developments while leaving a possibility of higher density is good planning.

“Most of the town of Stony Point is already built up. However, when you go up to Tomkins Cove, there is some undeveloped land. …

“A question rises: Do you want to go in there and put 50 or 100 units in there?” Collyer said, noting that such townhouses would cause further buildup of the area as new residents want more stores and wider roads.

Town Supervisor Geoffrey Finn said he was concerned about the proposed code that would allow accessory apartments to single-family houses on a special-permit basis.

“I think a lot of people are concerned about what’s going to happen,” Finn said.

“There’s a lot of illegal apartments in the town,” Finn said.

Stach said the law was proposed so homeowners, particularity seniors, who are struggling to pay rising property taxes and who meet certain criteria, can apply for the permit.

“As a means of allowing people to stay in their homes, we’re saying you can put an apartment downstairs as long as you don’t change the appearance of the home, as long as the apartment is smaller than (a) certain size,” Stach said. “There’s certain conditions that go with this, but it allows them a legal path to put (in) an apartment and earn some income to afford to stay in their homes.”

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