Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Another Issue Before the Council Last Night

The proposed amendment to the zoning code that would allow a hotel to be developed near the train station came before the Common Council at last night's special meeting in the form of "A Local Law to Establish the R-S-C-2 Zoning District and to Designate 'Hotel' as a Conditionally Permitted Use in the Southern Waterfront Area R-S-C-2 District." As soon as the proposed law was introduced, Alderman Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) requested that the law be sent back to the Legal Committee "so we can clearly understand the boundaries of the southern R-S-C zone." No map of what would be the new R-S-C-2 District accompanied the proposed law.

City attorney Ken Dow explained that he had been asked to rewrite the amendment originally proposed by the mayor so that it would affect only one of the three areas of the city currently zoned R-S-C (Residential/Special Commercial). That request came from Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) in the Legal Committee meeting on February 24. One of the other areas zoned R-S-C (colored pale blue on the zoning map below) is in the Second Ward. It extends from State Street to Dock Street and east from Front Street to the back of lots facing North Second Street. The third area zoned R-S-C is the north side of Columbia Street to Long Alley, from Fourth Street to Sixth Street. In those two areas, a hotel would not be a conditionally permitted use.

Alderman Rick Rector asked Dow if the proposed change tied back to what was described in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and Dow confirmed that the discussion of the southern waterfront area in the LWRP mentioned hotels and hence the law was consistent with the document.

Although the Common Council made an amendment to the zoning code only last year, no one seemed certain of the process. Last year, there was a resolution that achieved three things: (1) it accepted the proposed law for review and consideration, in other words, it placed the proposed law on the aldermen's desks; (2) it referred the proposed law to the City of Hudson and Columbia County planning boards for review and comment; (3) it directed the city attorney to prepare the appropriate SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) documents to accompany the referral. Last night, there was no such resolution; there was only the proposal local law itself.

The Council first took a voice vote, which appeared to be unanimous, to refer the proposed law to the planning boards. They then took another voice vote, which again seemed unanimous, to lay the proposed law on their desks.

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