What do you want to see on Route 59 and Middletown Road in Nanuet? Matching facades, improved streetscapes, parking, signage, the train station, zoning changes.
Those are just a few of the topics that were touched on at Thursday night’s meeting. The Nanuet Chamber of Commerce invited representatives from Clarkstown to discuss upcoming ideas and changes for Nanuet.
“We’re very excited to be a part of the rebirth of the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce. This brings people in at the ground level and what they want to see in their town … not just how it looks but also events and activities,” said Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner.
Nanuet Main Street
At an earlier Nanuet Chamber of Commerce meeting, the topic was raised of the condition of Nanuet’s downtown Main Street. Many were worried about its “cheap signs,” empty storefronts and inconsistent look. Read more about those concerns in this Nanuet Patch article.
“When you envision your downtown, you envision what happens in your downtown, whether people are walking through, getting a slice of pizza and getting an Italian ice, whether you’re having festivals for Nanuet Day, etc … make them centers of life and activity,” said Hausner.
She also brought up marketing Nanuet to residents in different parts of Clarkstown and even the county.
“That’s where the chamber plays a vital role in setting the tone of what you want the downtown center feel to be like. There’s only so much that government can do. We can provide the zoning changes and sidewalks, and there may be matching programs for façade changes but business owners have to take on the expense of making the façade look better,” said Hausner. “We want to create a culture for them to do that … and make it an investment that’s worthwhile.”
Clarkstown Planner Joe Simoes described two parts to planning: short range and long range planning. He said that the comprehensive plan is a long-range planning “guide for zoning” that municipalities update every 5-10 years. After 30 years on the shelf, Clarkstown updated the comprehensive plan in 1999.
In 2009, Clarkstown began updating its comprehensive plan and part of that process involves a review of the state highways – Routes 9W, 303, 304 and 59 - that run through the town and the zoning along those stretches. The town is working with consultant Cambridge Systematics, which presents the results of its studies that included a survey of existing business and interviews with property owners.
“We looked at routes 303, 304, 9W and 59 being major state corridors,” said Hausner. “We saved 59 for last because we wanted to time it with the opening of the Shops at Nanuet because we felt it was the biggest in some ways and deserves a lot of attention.“
“The town has been busy rezoning (parts of Clarkstown) and working with Cambridge Systematics. We’re looking at what’s there and what can be there in the future,” said Nanuet Resident and Chamber Member Jim Flynn.
Clarkstown has been looking at zoning and revitalization projects to improve their hamlets. Revitalization includes streetscapes, such as the recent one in New City and the upcoming one in West Nyack.
“What we’re looking at now is the zoning. While streetscape is great, zoning controls what you can do with your business,” said Hausner. She added that in Congers and Valley Cottage, most of the zoning is retail and service, but now, through the comprehensive plan, they have an option to apply to change zoning to have apartments over retail.
“(Those hamlets) can have mixed use as an incentive for renovating a building,” said Simoes. “Most zoning (in most of Clarkstown’s hamlets) is 1960s zoning, which is auto-oriented. It pushes buildings in the back (of the property) with parking in front. It doesn’t look at the pedestrian or the biker or someone who’s trying to get to the business. The zoning we’re putting in place now, does the complete opposite, move the building to front, make a façade, make a storefront, have it be walkable,” and have parking on the side or back. It’s the type of zoning we’re working on with New City.”
He added that Nanuet was fortunate because most of the businesses are up against the sidewalk already.
“You have a streetscape here. You can have a village feel when you walk down Main Street. (Having businesses move their buildings forward and parking behind or to the side of the building), that’s a major hurdle we’re running into with the other hamlets.”
Nanuet has three levels of zoning:
- Community shopping – Middletown Road / Main Street; For the hamlet
- Regional shopping – Route 59; For the town and county
- Major regional shopping – the Shops at Nanuet and the Palisades Center. For town, county and possibly the tri-state area
“You have all three here; you don’t have that anywhere else in the town,” said Simoes.
“Zoning can really help revitalize a community like nothing else,” said Hausner.
One type of zoning was commercial office and commercial office support, which provides flexibility for big businesses and corporate areas so that they “have limited amount of retail and service in those corporate parks,” said Simoes. “However, what seems to be most suited for Nanuet is what we did for 9W and 304, which is neighborhood shopping zoning. It’s a mixed-use concept, where you have retail and have apartments over retail.”
Hausner said that with Stop and Shop and small businesses on Main Street, Nanuet is already on its way to a neighborhood Main Street feel and could go further with zoning changes to “allow some apartments over retail. There are a lot grandfathered in already. Some businesses have talked with us and would like apartments over retail. We have to look at zoning in multiple ways, and sometimes it’s not allowing certain uses.”
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Part of the public outreach process includes the formation of a steering committee.
For the corridor studies, the town gathered a group of residents, business owners and community leaders to form a steering committee area by area, so for Route 303, there is one steering committee for Congers and one for Valley Cottage.
Hausner pointed out that the group from Congers’ has been very active and has been able to make significant contributions to their area; when looking at traffic, businesses were able to provide insight beyond the cambridge recommendations based on their knowledge of traffic patterns in the area. Their input was an important part of the process.
“They have actually formed a steering committee, branded themselves and are forming signage, (which) we are helping them with that,” said Simoes. “We want to have whatever zoning that will work for the business owners and will work for the residents.”
Hausner said that Cambridge will be starting possibly as early as next week with reaching out to businesses for feedback about their establishments and zoning needs.
In 2009 Clarkstown approached the comprehensive plan a “little differently because we wanted more public involvement, so we had a few public workshops,” said Simoes.
Cambridge also will have a community meeting at the high school or library in the Spring.
“For that (spring) meeting, we want to invite entire hamlet, send out letters, and ask what their vision is for Nanuet before we start changing zoning. We hired Cambridge for outreach,” said Simoes. “They will be sending out postcards and calling each business at least three times. They are calling (businesses) to get input and they will help you formulate something in terms of zoning here.”
Hausner closed the meeting by urging Nanuet businesses and residents to start thinking about what they want for Nanuet and talk to neighboring businesses.
Nanuet Resident and Chamber Secretary Susan Farese said that the chamber has started forming groups to give input to this steering committee. Those looking to join the chamber and be heard should check out their website. The chamber is open to all residents and businesses.
Check Back with Nanuet Patch later for another article on this meeting regarding the Train Station and the Shops at Nanuet
Related Patch Articles:
- Consultant Presents Findings on Route 9W Corridor (VIDEO)
- UPDATE: Clarkstown Approves Neighborhood Shopping Zoning (VIDEO)
- Consultants Present Findings on 303 & 304 Corridors
- Opposition To Possible Quickchek Raised At Route 304 Corridor Presentation
What Changes Would You Like to See for Nanuet? Share Your Thoughts in the Comments Section