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Beacon Transit Oriented Development Q&A

Beacon Transit Oriented Development Q&A

presented by the City Council, February 7, 2010


On December 10th 2009 the City Council held a meeting with the Main Street Corridor Committee and Beacon Deserves Better Committee. Also in attendance were City Administrator Meredith Robson, the City Planner David Stolman and County Planner John Clarke. The following questions were asked by the participants at that meeting. The answers are intended to be objective and factual. While there are some values implied the answers do not represent a position or a final opinion. A meeting is proposed with representatives of the two groups.


The following is the Table of Contents from the attached Transit Oriented Development Question and Answer document.
The 20th question and answer is included in this email. The full document is available here.


1) What is the Beacon Transit Oriented Development

2) Why is the MTA requiring a zoning change before any other development process?

3) Proposed zoning law does not represent the Comprehensive Plan?

4) Did the MTA have anything to do with the change in density from the Comprehensive Plan to the current TOD zone?

5) The language of the TOD zone is not that of a real Transit Oriented Development and shouldn’t the zone include Main Street?

6) Will retail on Main Street benefit and are there ways to safeguard Main Street business?

7) Is there a timeline when the city council will vote on the TOD zone?

8) Is there a timetable from council zoning approval to the completion of the project?

9) When will the MTA meet with Beacon Community Organizations?

10) Is there an economic benefit from the TOD to Beacon?

11) Why was the term view shed replaced by views and view corridors?

12) Has the city held public meetings regarding the TOD ? Was an effort made to inform the pubic and has the pubic been given a chance to speak?

13) Did the city ask the MTA for approval before zoning changes were made? Isn’t it true that the MTA has been calling the shots to the city? Have we given up our bargaining position? Who is negotiating for the city? Is the MTA’s first priority their own interests or the interest of the city?

14) Should an independent entity evaluate the TOD zone and review its environmental requirements?

15) Why is the city so adamant about going forward with the TOD?

16) Why are there no residential units planned for the north parking lot?

17) Will climate change flooding present a problem in the future for the TOD?

18) Will the MTA pay for traffic mitigation measures caused by the TOD?

19) The TOD will cause traffic problems to an already bad situation

20) Why not do nothing at all?


20) Why not do nothing at all?

Answer: Basically it all will come down to this question. The MTA has the legal authority to build parking spaces without needing municipal approval. They have determined that 400 additional spaces are required at the Beacon Station and stated they will proceed to build them with or without the Beacon TOD. Would it be better to have a large parking structure at the station with 400 additional parking spaces which has no beneficial impact to the city, ….OR… permit the MTA to develop in full cooperation with the city a well designed $290 million dollar transit oriented development that will; be an environmentally positive green development; add to Beacon a new residential and commercial waterfront center, connect to Main Street, include approximately 20 retail shops and provide over 1,200 new residents (customers for TOD shops and Main Street); increase our city’s yearly net property tax revenue by a huge $780,000, significantly increase the Beacon School District’s net revenue by nearly $2,000,000 and raise county and city’s sales tax revenues; create approximately 1,500 construction jobs, 530 permanent jobs, and 600 indirect jobs; lure tourist to Beacon and connect them to Main Street via a developer sponsored shuttle bus; design a ½ mile pedestrian friendly walk between the TOD and Main Street, and lastly provide an interesting new place for Beacon residents to enjoy a new waterfront neighborhood and a quarter mile promenade overlooking the Hudson River? [1]

Thank you,

Steve Gold, mayor@cityofbeacon.org



[1] Based on the AKRF report: Costs were determined by interviews conducted with the city administrator, city department heads (police, fire, highway, water, sewer), the Superintendent of the Beacon Schools System and a thorough line-by-line examination of the city’s budget. Revenues determined through interviews with the MTA with the help of the city’s assessor. See cityofbeacon.orgas the “cost of services study” in the city reports and documents section.


To Download the PDF document, CLICK HERE.

Views: 91

Tags: TOD, development, transit-oriented, waterfront

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Comment by Kevin Byrne on February 8, 2010 at 11:06pm
I will be so bold as to offer some alternate answers of my own here
1) this is a proposed development project on the waterfront that is adjacent to the train station. The labels are confusing to most folks
2)The MTA most likely wants to simplify and expidite what has been difficult and expensive process of public approvals for other projects like the West side yards and Atlantic yards. They have a few basic goals-
capture the value of their properties (get cash from a developer), and create a marginal increase in ridership. They will prioritize their own interests.
3)The original zoning draft was not even informed by the Comp.plan as far as I could tell. It now is kind of mixed use and the retail is reduced but no connection requirements yet, and no way to say it is environmentally smart yet.
4) The MTA dropped the TOD draft on the committee on the last seconds of the fourth quarter, with no real analysis or public input,and all the edits since then were handled by the professionals and developers involved, and the agendas of those parties were prioritized. Not so public i think.
5) Folks are working on making the zoning more likely to produce TOD environmental and economic benefits. It is complicated.
6) The amount of retail allowed would still hurt main street. Have you been to any towns where large single owner retail developments located next to diverse downtowns? the attept to regulate what people will sell is difficult in practice.
7) The council needs to really understand what is being proposed before it should vote on it. Almost all cities reserve major legal changes like this until after an acceptable proposal is presented. The River will still be there.
9) I would not if I was the MTA, but that would help build the kind of partnership that will help make it acceptable. Community acceptance is crucial, and not there yet.
10) There will be tax money generated. we are not sure how much.
11) Viewsheds are a legal term and defined in the LWRP.
12) There have been a lot of meetings. Democracy is slow
13) The MTA has done a pretty good job of getting getting it's goals prioritized.
14) Pace University Land use law could really be a great benefit, but they need to have the recommendations aired and supported and not killed in committee with MTA vetting.
17) Flood tides will have to be dealt with. There are incidents every year as it is.
20) a no build option should be part of any look at this stuff. it should not be cursory.
Comment by Ben Royce on February 8, 2010 at 3:11pm
steve/ city council:

it would be helpful to sell the T.O.D. to beacon residents by having an estimate of what the effect of this project will be on the tax bill of the average resident

for example, "if the average resident pays $7K/year in taxes, all else being equal, after the T.O.D. the average resident should pay $6.6K/year in taxes"

something like that

of course, there's dozens of variables in play here, some having nothing to do with the T.O.D., and some involving only rough guesses about the T.O.D. however, i think it would be useful to get a grasp on the size of the effect on individual households. that we would see a 2% reduction, or an 11% reduction, or whatever. not that i nor anyone else would hold you to these numbers, but just to get a rough idea of the scale of the impact here

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