Phase II of the Town of Clarkstown’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan was the focus of a Town Hall meeting Monday night. Cambridge Systematics, a Massachusetts-based company tasked with studying existing corridor conditions and recommending improvements gave a detailed presentation of their findings to approximately 30 attendees.
“The Town of Clarkstown hired Cambridge Systematics consulting firm for their analysis,” said Town Planner Joe Simones. “We decided that the areas that needed change are our state corridors. Land owners have come in and told us that something needed to be done with the zoning code. With some help from the state we embarked on this study to analyze these corridors.”
A presentation on the analysis of was given last Tuesday evening at Town Hall. Monday’s meeting was specifically to present the analysis of Route 303 and Route 304.
“Any of the concepts that we’re recommending are not set in stone," said Chris Titze of Cambridge Systematics. "These are certainly items that are up for discussion."
The concept Cambridge Systematic envisions for the corridor of Route 304 includes a desire to maintain residential character while encouraging limited small scale retail for neighborhood use and supporting the identity as a lower intensity gateway to the “New City Hamlet Center.”
Key findings of the Route 304 Corridor analysis:
- 304 Special Permit (allowing for conversion of residential to professional office) has worked well and enabled many to develop residential land uses to professional offices uses
- Lengthy and costly review/approval process is major impediment to private improvements and investments by businesses and landowners
- Excessive vehicular speeds and high number of driveways/curb cuts create safety issues with accessing and exiting businesses
- Most businesses do not have future plans for expansion or development
- Vacant and under-utilized properties diminishing value of corridor
A main discussion point concerning Route 303 was in regard to limiting the use of the corridor by those who work in industrial or corporate parks. This would be done by recommending zoning changes that would allow businesses such as banks, day cares and restaurants to operate in such corporate parks. The idea being that a corporate park with such amenities would not only attract new businesses but also limit the reasons an employee would need to travel in and out of the complex.
The next steps of Cambridge Systematics plans are as follows
- Revise Corridor Concept to reflect comments provided at public meetings
- Develop land use and zoning modifications that support final corridor concept and Comphrehensive Plan goals and objectives
- Submit recommended zoning map(s), zoning text change, and transportation improvements for Route 9W, Route 303 and Route 304 corridors to Special Board for review and comment
- Begin analysis of Route 59 East in Fiscal Yyear 2012 and Route 59 West in Fiscal Year 2013
“We really want to know, ‘did we get it right?’” said Titze. “We want to hear from you. Are we heading on a path that is meeting the needs of land owners, business owners and residents in Clarkstown?”
There were a number of curious Clarkstown residents in attendance. Their comments and questions were encouraged by Titze. The main concern in the cases of Route 303 and Route 304 was centered around traffic. Residents either felt that traffic was moving too quickly or that during peak hours things were so congested that driveways of businesses and residences were unaccessible.
However, Cambridge Systematics’ study focused on land use and zoning, not traffic-related studies so they were not able to address many of the residents’ concerns about traffic.