The Town Board has approved a zoning change that will promote commercial development along a nearly two-mile corridor of Route 67 opposite the Mechanicville railroad yard.
The new zoning is intended to encourage business development in what is now a residential area between the Mechanicville city line and George Thompson Road, on a busy highway near both the old rail yard and the Luther Forest Technology Campus.
“The road is a major corridor. It’s going to have a lot of traffic,” said town Supervisor Edward Kinowski.
The board also adopted a revision to the town’s comprehensive plan that will encourage business development in the entire southwestern corner of the town, the part closest to the Luther Forest site.
Luther Forest is where GlobalFoundries is currently building its $4.6 billion computer chip plant, while the old rail yard is currently being redeveloped as an intermodal rail-truck hub by Pan Am-Southern.
“These are generators of business, without a doubt,” said Dick Butler, the town’s acting director of planning and development. “This is a way of managing and controlling it.”
The Pan Am yard is expected to generate about 300 heavy trucks a day, almost all of them traveling west of Route 67 toward the Northway.
“Pan Am may produce more traffic than GlobalFoundries. Pan Am is going to be the hub between Chicago and Boston,” Kinowski said.
The Town Board acted at a meeting Thursday night, after an hour-long hearing on the proposal. About 25 residents asked questions but didn’t speak outright against the rezoning.
The land along Route 67, which includes the hamlet of Willow Glen, is currently zoned for residential use and is a combination of residential properties, industrial and open lands.
“It’s a principle east-west corridor linked to GlobalFoundries and the rail yard. With the open space, it was conducive to economic development,” said Joe Lanaro of The Chazen Group, town engineer.
Under the change, the local zoning would remain residential, but properties could be converted to commercial uses by obtaining a special permit from the town Planning Board — a less rigorous process than a rezoning.
Kinowski said he hopes to encourage small businesses that will serve railroad and GlobalFoundries workers, and spin-off development of offices and storage facilities. Commercial development will increase the town’s tax base, he said.
D.A. Collins formerly had its construction company headquarters on Route 67, and now wants to turn part of the 90 acres it owns into an office park, according to company representative Jeff Santulli.
“We’ve gotten several calls from people interested in locating within a certain radius” of GlobalFoundries, he said. “We think it could be something really special when we’re done . . . These people are knocking on our doors.”
Both GlobalFoundries and the new railroad yard are expected to open in 2012.