GLENVILLE -- The small retailers, big boxes, convenience stores and local and chain eateries along Freemans Bridge Road now have something in common beside frontage on one of Glenville's busiest roads.
The Glenville Town Board on Tuesday approved a new zoning district covering the one-mile corridor between the Mohawk River and Route 50, hoping to bring a unified vision and improved aesthetic to an area town officials generally think needs improvement.
"We want to move away from the potpourri of land uses there now and try to have one unified vision," Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said.
The approval of the new zoning district is the latest step in a multi-year effort to upgrade the corridor, which is the main highway between Glenville and the city of Schenectady, used by thousands of commuters or people heading to shopping destinations every day.
The new Freemans Bridge Road Corridor District replaces the previous mix of zones, which included residential, retail, and other uses, including conservation.
The new district considers the entire corridor to be commercial, encouraging mixed-use residential/commercial, research and development, retail, and professional or commercial office development. It also encourages all development to be built at a scale that encourages pedestrian and bicycle activity.
The new zoning is in keeping with the recommendations of a 2017 update to the town's comprehensive land use plan. Freeman's Bridge Road was a major focus of the update, which came from three years of study.
"This is something that came from a lot of work by committees," said town Councilman Michael Aragosa. "There were a lot of meetings for businesses and residents. We're trying to make that area what we want it to be."
A federally funded transportation study completed in 2018 spelled out plans for a "complete streets" project along the road, which would bring sidewalks and a bicycle lane to the road. The study led to the Capital District Transportation Committee tentatively awarding funding for the $3.2 million project, which town officials hope will start construction in 2021.
Also tentatively scheduled for 2021 are a state-funded rehabilitation of Freemans Bridge bridge that will include adding a bicycle lane, and a $300,000 project to improve the railroad grade crossing that sits in the middle of the corridor.
Koetzle said there's some hope that the complete streets project will encourage new development, and that the bridge and railroad work will encourage more bicycle use, since there are also plans to revitalize and connect existing bike/recreation trails in the area and on the Schenectady side of the Mohawk River.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the Town Board approved $805,000 in borrowing through short-term bond anticipation notes.
The borrowing includes $455,000 for the purchase of two new dump trucks for the town Highway Department; $250,000 toward construction of a road in Indian Meadows Park, part of a plan to establish a second Droms Road entrance to the park; and $100,000 to cover the cost of bringing underground electrical service into Maalwyck Park on Route 5.