SCHENECTADY — While Erie Boulevard received a coat of fresh asphalt this weekend, the city will wait another month to formally recommend zoning changes sought by nearby property owners.
The city is in the midst of a months-long improvement project focused on the stretch of Erie Boulevard between Union Street and the roundabout at Nott Street. Drivers were granted some relief over the weekend when an initial layer of fresh asphalt was put in place.
The corridor will remain a construction zone for the next few months while crews replace curbs and sidewalks and complete the road’s surface. Meanwhile, the businesses that might benefit from the upgraded thoroughfare could soon be subject to broader zoning regulations, pending a city review.
Prompted by an influx of property owners seeking to rezone their land to allow for broader development options, the Planning Commission in May named a task force to study the stretch of Erie Boulevard between Liberty Street and the light at Maxon Road Extension.
The parcels that line the road are in a downtown commercial district that “encourages a mix of commercial, civic, cultural and hospitality uses in a pedestrian-oriented setting,” according to the city’s zoning code.
However, some business owners have, in recent months, considered how they might capitalize on the new development along the street near Mohawk Harbor. To that end, they have asked to have certain properties rezoned.
“To do our due diligence, we need to look at the whole area and not pick and choose a parcel here and a parcel there,” Planning Commission Chairwoman Mary Moore Wallinger said at the time the study was begun.
The study appears to have come to a head this month, after an agenda item for the commission’s Aug. 16 meeting called for a recommendation to change the zoning from a manufacturing and warehousing district to a “transition corridor district,” which is not listed in the city’s zoning code.
The recommendation was pulled from the agenda about a week ago, however, because some property owners associated with the study wanted to discuss it further, said City Planner Christine Primiano.
The study initially included undeveloped waterfront property along Maxon Road Extension — property on which owner Pat Popolizio wants to build townhouses.
A month later, the task force determined his land, located at 1903 Maxon Road Extension, did not fall into the Erie Boulevard corridor that was part of the study. As a result, the commission recommended the property be rezoned to a waterfront mixed-use district, as Popolizio requested.
After nobody spoke at a public hearing for the proposal at a July City Council meeting, the council approved the change.
Popolizio will still need to get separate approval for the townhouses, plus any other amenities he plans to build along the water. The idea is still in the planning stages and does not have a clear-cut timetable.