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Important development plans to be discussed at Council Meetings Monday July 27 and Monday August 3rd.

Dear Residents,

There are several important items the City Council is considering that the public should be informed about. They have to do with waterfront and Fishkill Creek developments.

On Monday July 27th at a Special City Council Meeting, I anticipate that the Council will set a public hearing date of September 8th for three items: (1) Zoning to accommodate the Transit-Oriented Development at the waterfront. (2) Zoning for property north of the train station known as Edgewater. (3) Beacon’s first Affordable Housing local law.

Also during the workshop section of the July 27th meeting the council will be discussing zoning for residential and commercial development on the Fishkill Creek, and an accompanying greenway trail. (See cityofbeacon.org for the agenda and copies of zoning regulations).

The Council meeting of August 3rd will be limited to a special community information forum. The meeting will be filmed and shown on the city’s website and channel 22. On behalf of Beacon, John Clarke, Senior Planner for the Dutchess County Department of Planning will present a new PowerPoint to the public regarding the proposed Transit-Oriented Development District. It will include information about the land surrounding the Railroad Station, include historic views of the area, describe design principles that have been incorporated into the TOD zone legislation, an illustrative sketch plan as one example of what the transit-oriented development might look like, an analysis of how river views can be protected, and the public benefits of transit-oriented development. The public is invited to join in to ask questions and make statements although the first official public hearing may be September 8th. The council wants to learn your viewpoints before it will make its decisions.

As your Mayor I want to make one observation that relates to these zoning regulations. The city must find a more sustainable method to balance its budget than our current unhealthy dependence on sales tax related revenues. The effects of the economic downturn on sales tax revenue led to financial difficulties for Beacon last year and the 2010 budget is projected to have even more serious consequences. One way to stabilize revenue is to add to our residential housing stock using smart growth principles. The developments that we are considering on the water front and the Fishkill Creek will do that. They represent a low cost for Beacon to provide services (including schools) than single family homes on large lots. That is why these developments are recommended by the city’s new Comprehensive Plan. The density and location of Beacon’s transit-oriented development is environmentally positive and supported by Scenic Hudson Land Trust. It is also why in a July 10th editorial the Poughkeepsie Journal wrote “the blueprints are there (in Beacon) for sound growth”.

We’ve already protected the city from over development by limiting density in our existing residential neighborhoods and by creating new parklands. Now we are focusing on undeveloped areas the areas where residential and commercial units can provide a measure of financial sustainability and add to our Main Street business vitality. Extensive long term professional traffic studies conducted by the city have yielded favorable results. Undoubtedly these developments will change the look of our waterfront and creek. It is for us all to contemplate if that change will be for the better. We should all keep an open mind as these discussions unfold.


Thank you,
Steve Gold
mayor@cityofbeacon.org

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Comment by Mark Roland on July 28, 2009 at 7:14am
Steve,
Thanks. I found the meeting informative, and the points council members brought up were important. For example, as soon as I read the wording about "undue competition" I told George that was going to be a problem, and sure enough that was the first point you raised. I could be maya! (Kidding.) Another big concern was the traffic that will be generated by these proposed developments. Apologies to others reading this if it's oblique, but I plan to post my take on this meeting in the next day or two.
Comment by Steve Gold on July 28, 2009 at 1:08am
Mark,
Good to see you tonight at the meeting. This is a reply I received to a letter I wrote to the MTA Metro North representative who is working with the city on the TOD. It is in regards to their help in getting a shuttle. In the letter she is referring to a joint application made by the city and the MTA called a "smart growth" grant. One of three we applied for is to explore the best means for a Main Street to waterfront shuttle.

She replied....
"Well we are supporting your Smart Growth grant application for planning to develop shuttle service. We are also researching federal/other funding available through stimulus package and also grants for green/electric vehicles."

Mark, I will let you know when we hear more.
Steve
Comment by Mark Roland on July 27, 2009 at 6:11am
Thanks Mayor Gold. Density is good, but of course traffic is bad. I'm curious about the details behind the sentence "Extensive long term professional traffic studies conducted by the city have yielded favorable results."

Hopefully instead of just widening or adding roads there will be comprehensive plans for alternate means of transportation. Being situated near the train is great, but all the people in these units will still be heading off to Wal-Mart, maybe even Main Street. It would be great if the plan includes convenient and safe ways to do this that don't necessarily involve hopping in a car. I'm thinking of buses, shuttles, and, of course, dedicated bicycle lanes, perhaps combined with efforts to reduce traffic and parking on Main. See you tonight.
Comment by Henry on July 26, 2009 at 2:20pm
Good job
Comment by Kelly Kingman on July 26, 2009 at 11:06am
Thanks for the comprehensive update.

To all, here is a link to the agenda.

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