July 26, 2010
Draft Transit Oriented Development Statement,
by Steve Gold, mayor
This letter is to announce that the Transit Oriented Development zone, in its current form, will no longer be considered or advanced for further discussion, by the Mayor and the City Council. While the MTA has stated they will only build a TOD based on the levels enumerated in the current TOD, and that they plan to add 400 additional commuter parking spaces, we hope they will continue to work with the city and our residents to find a mutually beneficial TOD development. However in summary, the current TOD zone density is unacceptable.
I am taking this action as a direct result of the open discussions that have taken place between the city council and the public in a series of outreach measures taken over the last year, which includes: special presentations, articles in the Beacon Free Press, Beacon Citizens Network, Channel 22 broadcasts, public hearings, town hall meetings, ward meetings and special meetings with concerned groups such as Beacon Deserves Better and the city’s Main Street Corridor Committee.
It is my understanding, and the understanding of the city council, that the public holds deep rooted concerns about Main Street business, traffic, road widening mitigations and views. These concerns persist despite measures the city has outlined in the TOD zone to mitigate negative impacts, and the numerous legal safeguards provided for the city in the environmental impact review and the special use permit process. That is to say, we have listened to your concerns and are responding.
We believe that many people, and we understand not all, support the concept of a Transit Oriented Development at our waterfront. A well constructed TOD in Beacon will lift Main Street business, provide more customers, encourage visitors to Beacon, create jobs, increase the property tax revenues for the city and the school system, and utilize the leading environment smart growth principle available for land use development. Most of the language in the current TOD draft zone will remain; however, the council will begin discussions and study a reduction of the density in all areas of the TOD zone.
The new density levels are not yet established. Discussions will begin with a one third reduction over the current TOD zone. Our goals are: (1) Retail space will be reduced (by more than half the current amount) to limit the shopping/dining experience and enhance the allure of historic Main Street. (2) Commercial space will be reduced to provide business activity but leave Main Street as the primary commercial area. (3) Residential units will be reduced to lower the height and number of buildings, and to open viewsheds. (4) We will reduce the number of 400 commuter parking spaces to completely eliminate the need to widen 9D near Verplanck and reduce traffic congestion. While 9D is a state road which may limit our control, the City of Beacon will not support, and will resist, the widening of 9D in the vicinity of Verplanck Ave. The zone will state that if the MTA desires to increase ridership they are encouraged to provide satellite parking – bus service and financial incentives, for other locations outside of Beacon. (5) The total of all new parking spaces will be lowered because of the reduction in commuter parking and corresponding residential/commercial units. (6) The developer will be required to provide plans, or possibly finance and build, walkways, bicycle paths, and a limited number of residential/commercial units on property owned by the City of Beacon located on Beekman Street and West Main Street. The purpose is to encourage a non-motorized access between Main Street and the waterfront. (7) The council will explore the possibility to permit the developer to increase the maximum allowable densities in certain areas, if it can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that no adverse impacts will be created.
We greatly appreciate your input over the last year. The council will be seeking your views to the new TOD draft zone outlined above. - end-