A few dozen Clifton Park residents received a first look at some changes, including potential zoning amendments, that are expected as the town moves into the second phase of creating an urban town center.
The public gathered at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library on Tuesday night to hear from town officials and local planners about the furthering of the town’s 2012 Town Center Plan.
The Town Center Plan was implemented to facilitate the construction of residences and mixed-use buildings meant to bolster the Exit 9 area as brick-and-mortar retailers struggled to remain in business.
Specifically, the town center is bordered by Moe Road to the west, the town of Halfmoon to the east, Plank Road to the north and Clifton Park Center Road to the south, comprising just over one square mile.
The first phase of the Town Center Plan zoning amendments focused on property west of the Northway. The next phase will focus on the area east of the I-87, which is a much smaller area.
The zoning changes made in the first phase of the project involved the implementation of a Town Center Form Based Code in 2015. That spelled out what type of development would best serve the area and be most consistent with the overall vision, as opposed to standard zoning laws, which only touch on what is allowed in an area and what is not.
The new code allowed larger apartment buildings and mixed-use buildings to be created. Since 2016, four large apartment complexes have been proposed for the town center. Three have been approved by the Planning Board.
A committee consisting of town officials, planners and other citizens will guide any zoning amendments. The second phase of the plan is also expected to incorporate public workshops.
At the conclusion of the study, zoning changes similar to the 2015 zoning amendment will be proposed for the eastern side of the study area.
The zoning plan for the eastern portion of the town center is estimated to cost the town $22,700. Any zoning amendment will ultimately be a decision voted on by the Town Board.
Zoning in the east area of the Town Center right now is heavily commercial, with some residential areas and other uses, such as restaurants, mixed in.
There are also vacant areas where sidewalks could be installed to increase mobility and access.
Proposed for the eastern area is a shift to zoning that would allow neighborhood-centered construction as well as neighborhood-retail hybrids.
Observers of the first phase have predicted the remaining work won’t be as costly, or as expensive.
Since 2006, the town has spent $55,000 on the Town Center planning efforts, including a study focused on Exit 9 as well as the zoning amendments.
A majority of that work was federally and state funded, including grants from the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, the Capital District Transportation Authority and Saratoga County.