Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Revisions
2017: Town Board appoints a Community Preservation Committee to review Town resources and propose measures to protect open spaces and preserve farmland.
October 2016: Town Board votes to approve residential building moratorium. The public hearing notice states: "The purpose of this Local Law is to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Chester and to maintain the status quo of certain residential development in the Town that consist of five (5) or more residential lots or Multifamily or Multi-Unit dwellings containing five (5) or more dwelling units. This Local Law will allow the Town Board a reasonable opportunity to complete its comprehensive zoning review, including the adoption of zoning regulations consistent with the Town's recently adopted Comprehensive Plan. The moratorium is for a period of six months, which is considered to be adequate time to consider such zoning regulations and amendments." More details available at the Town of Chester website under agenda documents here.
At the public hearing, the Town Board reviews options in prohibiting development activities while they review regulation changes as per the Comprehensive Plan adopted last year. Policy changes need to happen that would improve the review of projects townwide that go before the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.
However, the local law does not cover all pending development. The Town Board listed residential development projects that have already received approvals that will be exempt from the provision and not subject to improved regulations and zoning changes (totally 475 units). There were also several other subdivisions (totally 59 units) that will be exempt due to having conditional final approval in addition to all other uses in the town being exempt from the moratorium.
Last changes to the Town's zoning and regulations were adopted in June 2016 regarding Sugar Loaf business district and zone change from Office Park to Industrial in the area in and around former Camp LaGuardia site. A link to the public hearing minutes and laws: here.
In 2013, the Town decided it was time to review the 2003 Comprehensive Plan for updates. The process included re-evaluating the goals and objectives that will guide future growth and development. They reached out to residents to describe what they feel are assets in the Town and what they feel are challenges facing the Town now and in the future including the Sugar Loaf Hamlet. Topics included Housing and Community Character, Natural Resources, Cultural and Recreation Resources, Infrastructure, Business Development, Tourism, Farmland, Open Spaces and Environment.
The Town gathered input for changes in regulations and asked what do you want protected? and what do you want developed?
Links to public hearing meetings:
Jan 14, 2015.and Dec 4,2014.
Link to discussion by Planner: March 25, 2015.
In May 2015, the Town adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan. A link is posted on the Town's website here.
It is important to note that the 2003 Comprehensive Plan estimated an additional 3,000+ potential new dwellings until the town is build out. The economy has slowed growth for much of the area since that time, and some proposals were withdrawn, but there are some projects that already have approval (e.g. the Greens of Chester, 400+ unit subdivision) but not built yet and could have a significant impact on the Town's available resources when completed.
No matter if future development is commercial, industrial or residential, the Town's zoning and regulations need to be updated and improved to be consistent with the current Comprehensive Plan and its planning vision "to accommodate new growth while retaining its unique heritage and enhancing the Town's rural character and quality of life".
Everyone's input and feedback on how to address quality of life concerns will help make a difference.The Preservation Collective, has been following planning and development in Chester for years. We hope the new Comprehensive Plan/Zoning Committee will discuss several issues we have raised over that time frame, which still have not been addressed in the current regulations.
We think it's important that residents speak up with their ideas and concerns. You can send letters to:
Town of Chester
1786 Kings Highway
Chester, NY 10918