Saratoga County

Wilton board mulls hamlet zone changes

The Town Board wants to improve development rules for its hamlet zones located in several parts o

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The Town Board wants to improve development rules for its hamlet zones located in several parts of Wilton so that they are more pedestrian-friendly and more visually attractive.

Town Planner Kate Maynard has developed a list of proposed hamlet zone changes that would accomplish these improvements.

The town introduced the hamlet zones into the zoning code three years ago.

The zones include the Maple Avenue hamlet at Route 9 and Northern Pines Road, the Wilton hamlet at Route 9 and Parkhurst Road and the Gurn Spring hamlet at Ballard and Traver roads.

To make the proposals easier to understand, Maynard used examples of successful hamlet-type zoning in Saratoga Springs, Malta and Clifton Park.

“The overall concern with the current zoning schedule for H-1 [hamlet zone] is that the setbacks, frontage and minimum lot-size requirements will promote only a more larger-scaled, spread-out manner of development,” Maynard said in her proposal to the Town Board.

The current hamlet zones don’t accomplish the “compact, walkable environment envisioned in the 21st Century Commission Plan and discussed extensively,” she said.

The 21st Century Commission Plan is the town’s latest comprehensive planning document. It encourages neighborhood centers or gathering places called hamlets.

Deputy Supervisor Raymond O’Conor said at this month’s Town Board meeting that an example of how the hamlet zoning has not lived up to its purpose is the nearly completed CVS drug store on Route 9 near the Northern Pines Road intersection.

O’Conor said instead of having the pharmacy and drug store located up near Route 9, the building is set well back with a large parking lot along Route 9.

Maynard’s proposal to change the hamlet zone includes changing the front, side and rear setbacks in the zone to bring a building up closer to the road but still allow space for a sidewalk, ornamental trees and street lighting.

The current setback in the hamlet zone is between 45 feet and 65 feet from the property line.

Maynard said when you include the town’s 15 foot right of way near the road, this places buildings as far back as 80 feet from the edge of the pavement. She maintains that this is too great of a distance to really support the hamlet concept.

Her recommendation is to change the front setback to between 15 and 25 feet with a side setback of 20 feet and a rear setback of 30 feet.

A key concept in this proposed change would be placing street lighting and street trees within the town’s right of way and having the required sidewalk on the property line edge “with a legal agreement that the private property owner maintain the street trees and lighting within the town’s right of way.”

The proposed hamlet changes also call for a smaller minimum lot size. Maynard notes that the current minimum lot size in the hamlet zone is between 20,000 square feet and 120,000 square feet.

The proposal recommends reducing this lot size to between 10,000 square feet and 18,000 square feet, depending on the use.

The changes also include reducing the frontage of a lot in the hamlet zone from the current 200 feet to between 60 feet and 70 feet.

The Town Board and others involved in the land-use planning process will discuss the changes at a workshop meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Town Hall. The Town Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 6 at Town Hall, 22 Traver Road.

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