Chester Comprehensive Plan, Zoning and new proposed Community Preservation Plan (CPP)
On June 13, 2018 - Town of Chester held a public hearing on proposed local law for a Community Preservation Fund. Chester will need special authorizing legislation from New York State to use the transfer tax component. Then, the Town must hold a public referendum. However, the Senate did not vote on bill before summer session ended.
Town Board drafts a Community Preservation Plan to protect open spaces, historic and natural resources and preserve farmland. Associated documents should be posted on the Town's website and/or can be viewed at Town Hall upon request.
Additional agendas and minutes: here.
Town Board appoints a Planning Committee in 2017 to review Town resources and propose measures in "protecting and preserving open and undeveloped lands in the Town of Chester, including wetlands, woodlands, agricultural lands, and the other natural resources of the Town; for the purpose of protecting historic places and properties within the Town; and for the purpose of providing the Town's visitors and residents with outdoor recreational opportunities."
"This Community Preservation Plan (CPP) is intended to provide the foundation and framework for establishing a Town of Chester Community Preservation Fund, which will enable the Town to supplement PDR (Purchase of Development rights) efforts and proactively protect valuable open space and farmland through the purchase of such lands or conservation easements thereon...The Town intends to pursue a variety of measures to implement the recommendations of the CPP and not to rely solely upon the purchase of lands."
Draft of a Community Preservation Plan, Preservation Fund law and public hearing planned for 2018.
2017-2018: Town Board amends Zoning code with updated definitions, changes to the Billboard chapter, changes to special requirements for specific uses, and changes to zoning map on several parcels in addition to adopting a new solar energy regulation. Town Board also adopts local law to regulate floor area ratio to encourage both new houses and expansions or alterations to existing houses to have a consistent scale with the nearby residences.
2016-2017: Town Board enacted a residential building moratorium. The public hearing notice: "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."
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 did 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.
In 2016: Changes to the Town's zoning and regulations were adopted 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 Town's website for 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?
Public hearing meetings were video recorded by the town on Dec 4, 2014 and Jan 14, 2015. In addition the Town's Planner discussed the plan on 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. However, changes in the economy slowed growth for much of the area after that time, and some proposals were withdrawn, but there are some projects that already had approval (e.g. the Greens of Chester, 431 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. We need to stay informed and involved in the process.
We must work together to balance economic growth and environmental protection
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 are encouraged to speak up with their ideas and concerns at any time. If you can not attend Town meetings, then you can send in written comments to the Town Board at:
Town of Chester
1786 Kings Highway
Chester, NY 10918