Boston Heights -- On Tuesday, the village Council approved 5-1 legislation to have the Hines Hill Corridor Plan take effect, starting 30 days after Dec. 13.

The ordinance will create an overlay plan for the zoning code for properties along East Hines Hill Road, Dean Memorial Parkway and state Route 8. The overlay acts as a set of guidelines that the planning commission will oversee; the zoning inspector will enforce these guidelines.

"This helps put in place our ability to see that [land] developed the way we want to see it developed," council member Janet Miller said. "We're trying to be proactive in terms of the village having the ability to manage, restrict and protect any area. This is being put in place... as a proactive measure to give the village the ability to stand up for those residents."

No specific developments have been proposed, Boston Heights Mayor Bill Goncy told the Hudson Hub-Times.

"This is a guideline and a template for what could be done in the future, if it meets the conditions of the overlay," he said.

The new overlay establishes parameters for what kind of structures can be built, with areas sequestered for business buildings, village center units and mixed-use facilities, which involves the property housing multiple functions, such as being residential as well as business.

Council member Don Polyak said the ordinance will help the village with "quality and modernizing the zoning code," which he said people were requesting through focus groups and prior meetings. This would mean buildings would have to follow guidelines such as maintaining an aesthetic quality.

The planning commission will review applications and determine whether the buildings proposed for development adhere to the new zoning overlay. The overlay can be amended by the planning committee to add any other suggestions.

If a development is proposed, "If it's in this overlay, it's something we're going to take a look at, but [if not], it's not something we're going to consider," Goncy said.

Along with this came the amending and adoption of an ordinance which would allow the use of up to 12 units per acre for mixed-use development with the potential for developers to request an additional 4 units for development if something that would benefit the village would be constructed.

Miller said some problems associated with this ordinance involve concern for population density growth. However, she said this overlay plan would be used as a tool to protect the village and allow local officials to be more involved when new buildings are being developed, as well as the ability to turn down residential plans.

She said this ordinance was created to protect the village from unwanted structures being developed. She said it started in 2007 after the village overturned a vote to make the zoning property mixed-use after a developer wanted to build the Arhaus headquarters in the village.

"It's hard to reassure people when they feel they're not being protected but this overlay is precisely trying to be proactive in protecting their properties and the gateway to the park," Miller said.

Out of the nine people in attendance, some weren't happy with the ordinance. Council member Bob Bartko, who voted against the ordinance, voiced his opposition about the ordinance at the meeting with the idea of stopping more development.

Mary Griffiths, a local, voiced her concern for the amount of increased traffic with new buildings developed as well as an increase in population density.

"I think it's a big mistake," she said. "They're doing this because they're afraid to get sued."

Griffiths said she wants to help preserve the green space and park, which is why she's against opening these properties up with the new zoning overlay as well as potential developments such as big box retailers and multi-housing buildings.

"They should be considering the voice of the people, and they're not doing that," she said. "The people don't even know this is going on."

Bartko shared the concern of keeping away more development.


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