It would seem that the code could be amended to correct these obvious problems, but there was been reluctance to make amendments to the zoning code—except, most notably, the one made recently to accommodate the proposed Stewart's expansion—in favor of holding out for comprehensive zoning revisions, which will cost tens of thousands of dollars the City allegedly does not have to spend for the purpose.
The Planning Board, however, seems willing to eschew the trepidation about doing things "piecemeal." At the end of its meeting last Thursday, the board discussed making a recommendation to the Common Council about relaxing some of the requirements in the city code for offstreet parking. Currently, hotels must provide one offstreet parking space for every room, and eating and drinking establishments must provide one offstreet parking space for every three seats. These requirements have demanded some pretty inventive solutions for many new enterprises, as well as any number of area variances from the ZBA. There are two projects currently before the ZBA for area variances because of parking. The plan to restore and develop the Park Place firehouses into a marketplace and tasting room for New York State craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries requires, according to the code, 25 offstreet parking spaces. The wine bar planned for 260 Warren Street requires 30 offstreet parking spaces.
In the discussion on Thursday, Planning Board chair Walter Chatham observed, "We have an overflow of parking capacity," referring to the underutilized municipal parking lots located off Warren Street. He also expressed the opinion, "At the time the parking codes were written, if you had to walk more than ten feet [from your car to your destination], you were putting yourself in danger." That may have been the case in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but probably not in 1968 when the zoning code was adopted. It's more likely the motivation for the parking requirements was to keep Hudson's commercial businesses competitive with Greenport.
In 1965, just three years before Hudson adopted its zoning code, the Healy Farm—93 acres between Fairview Avenue (Route 9) and Union Turnpike (Route 66), just beyond Hudson's northern border—had been sold and was being developed as a shopping center, with acres of parking in close proximity to places of business. Given that circumstance, it's easy to attribute Hudson's parking requirements to a desire to ensure that parking for patrons of Hudson businesses was as convenient as that provided in Greenport—that goal coupled with no compunction about demolishing old buildings and creating parking lots in their stead. This house, the home of Elihu and Eliza Gifford, parents of the Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford, was demolished during that era, in 1965, and its location turned into a parking lot.
In what may have been his last bit of advice as counsel to a Hudson regulatory board, assistant city attorney Mitch Khosrova told the Planning Board, "The quicker you make a recommendation to simplify the parking, the better."
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