Friday, June 30, 2017
The Monroe Town Board is considering a set of potential zoning changes that would relax restrictions on housing density in an area next to the Village of Kiryas Joel and tighten them in more rural sections of town.
The proposed changes are the result of a revision of the town's Comprehensive Plan that began early in 2016, accompanied by a moratorium on all housing construction. The board released a proposed update of the Comprehensive Plan in March, and plans to hold public hearings in July on zoning changes that their consultant has since recommended with her analysis of their potential impact.
According to that analysis, known as a draft generic environmental impact statement, the net outcome of the proposed zoning changes in the areas outside Monroe's three villages would be about 300 fewer potential homes when the town is fully developed. Planner Bonnie Franson calculated her proposal would allow 1,666 housing units to be built on residential properties that are now undeveloped, compared to 1,969 under the existing zoning.
The biggest change Franson has proposed is reducing allowable housing density on 1,070 acres of Monroe by increasing the minimum lot size in those locations to three acres, the town's most restrictive zoning. Largely as a result of that shift, the total area zoned for one-acre or half-acre lots would drop by nearly 1,270 acres.
The opposite change would take place north of Route 17 and west of densely populated Kiryas Joel, where housing demand is more intense. Under the proposal now before the board, 217 acres that are now zoned for one-acre and three-acre lots - much of it already developed with single-family houses - would allow quarter-acre lots if sewer service is extended into that area. The minimum lot size would be one acre if no sewers are installed.
An area slightly farther from Kiryas Joel and bordering County Route 44 would be zoned for one-acre lots instead of three acres.
The relaxed zoning in those places is a recognition of the growing Hasidic community's quest for more housing and walkable neighborhoods. But they still would look very different than neighboring Kiryas Joel, which consists mostly of condominiums built at densities for 20 or more units per acre in recent years. By contrast, Monroe would allow only single-family houses and densities no greater than four homes per acre.
Monroe Councilman Tony Cardone said Thursday that he expects the Town Board to vote on the new Comprehensive Plan and proposed zoning changes in August. The moratorium remains in effect until then. The moratorium, extended several times since the board initially ordered a three-month halt more than a year ago, expires on Aug. 4 but may be extended for a short period to allow time for the board to vote, he said.
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