Saratoga County

Village adopts law to require clustered houses

p>The village is making progress in establishing zoning laws that will keep it looking quaint and Vi
Hyungmi Kim, right, walks while her cousin Hannah Sweet, 3, of Round Lake, rides her bike down Lake Avenue in Round Lake Thursday afternoon.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Hyungmi Kim, right, walks while her cousin Hannah Sweet, 3, of Round Lake, rides her bike down Lake Avenue in Round Lake Thursday afternoon.

The village is making progress in establishing zoning laws that will keep it looking quaint and Victorian, even if new development comes in.

The Village Board on Wednesday adopted a law requiring that all new major subdivisions be clustered, a way of keeping lot sizes small and preserving surrounding open space.

The board is also in the process of developing architectural standards that would require new houses to look similar to the existing cottage-style housing designs.

“We want to keep the style and ambiance [the village] has,” said Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks. “We want to keep it one village.”

Round Lake, just off Northway Exit 11, has a concentration of Victorian architecture because of its history as a community settled by Methodist camp meeting participants in the late 1800s. The consistent design is one of the reasons the village is on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, surrounding lands in the towns of Malta, Ballston and Clifton Park have been undergoing development in recent years, and new projects have been proposed in the village.

Concerns about two townhouse development proposals prompted the board in 2007 to adopt a major development moratorium that is set to expire Aug. 6. The mandatory clustering law will now be in place when that moratorium expires.

The clustering law encourages new single-family houses over townhouses. It requires new lots to be at least one-third of an acre, but less if surrounding open space is preserved. At least 40 percent of the developable land in major subdivisions — those of five lots or more — must be set aside as publicly accessible open space.

Sacks estimated there are only about a half-dozen large undeveloped pieces of property in the village.

Separately, a committee chaired by village Trustee Carrie Woerner is reviewing the different types of cottage designs in the village, and plans to develop standards for new cottage-style housing.

“They are to go in concert with the clustered subdivision law,” Woerner said. “Our goal is over time, as people look at the village, they have a single sense of place.”

The architectural standards would be adopted as part of the village zoning code after a public hearing. That is probably still several months away.

Woerner said there are other communities that have architecture laws designed to preserve a specific historical look, including Cape May, N.J., and Oak Bluffs, Mass.

“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Sacks said.

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