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Housing Board talks about future needs, comp plan and zoning

AMENIA — From updates on the Tri-Town Coalition (TTC) to a thorough discussion about planning, the Amenia Housing Board (AHB) made effective use of its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. via Microsoft Teams,  four AHB members, two liaisons from the Amenia Town Board and Town Planner Ashley Levy from the environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm AKRF attended.

Looking toward a future listening session, AHB Chair Leo Blackman reported the TTC and the Regional Planning Association are moving ahead to train housing ambassadors in each of the coalition’s towns (Amenia, Pine Plains and Millerton/North East) and assist them in the new year.

While on the subject of the TTC, Blackman said he, town Councilwoman Vicki Doyle and town Supervisor Victoria Perotti attended its last Steering Committee meeting, when Hudson River Housing Executive Director Christa Hines announced her group plans to provide TTC with a template to evaluate potential properties for affordable housing projects.

Talking about planning, Levy explained her firm was engaged to review ways to encourage workforce housing that Amenia’s zoning code may currently inhibit.

Levy suggested simplifying a section of the zoning code to turn over the selection and management of any project from the AHB to the developer or a not-for-profit. She also noted the potential financial incentives for developers, such as donated land, lower fees, streamlined processes, less parking and tax incentives.

In order to create affordable dwelling units, Levy proposed as-of-right permitting to the AHB along with New York State minimum size regulations, minimum acreage regulations and financial incentives.

For multi-family and senior dwellings, she pointed out that since dwelling density is dependent on municipal waste and water, perhaps developments with their own systems should be given the same density via floating zones.

As another option, Levy said they could expand the multi-family zone or treat new construction the same as renovations.

She also recommended that the town of Amenia’s Comprehensive Plan be modified to correspond with any changes made in zoning.

As written in the meeting minutes, Blackman said the AHB will need the Town Board to approve additional time with its consultants from AKRF to be able to implement any of these changes. Levy offered to identify the proposed changes in the zoning code that are the simplest to make and report back.

Reporting on the Wastewater Committee, Blackman noted that at the Town Board’s Aug. 19 meeting, Perotti announced she had found funds in the budget to hire a wastewater engineer and planned to send a check so the wastewater study could be updated. Once done, the AHB believes that will help it further pursue affordable housing in town.

The Amenia Housing Board’s held a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 5:30 p.m. For more on that meeting, look for a report in a future issue of The Millerton News.

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