Posts Tagged With: zoning ordinance

Amsterdam’s Proposed Zoning Update


Current Zoning Map

Amsterdam’s Zoning Update Committee will meet on June 1, 2011, at 6PM in the Council Chamber at City Hall to go over the last proposed zoning changes. The committee reintroduced the controversial City Historic District after convincing argument from City Historian Robert von Hasseln, who also provided guidance on its governance.

The arduous process of physically updating the ordinance and creating maps was primarily carried out by The Montgomery County Department of Planning and Economic Development who had to deal with contemptuous committee members like me. After an organizational meeting in October of 2009, County Planners Doug Greene, Ken Rose and Randy Siver (who was laid off this year by Montgomery County Legislators) met monthly for over a year to hammer out the details.

The Zoning Update Committee members mainly consisted of Mayor Ann Thane, Alderman William Wills, Corporation Council Gerard DeCusatis, Bob DiCaprio, Gerald Skrocki, Todd Fabozzi, Doug Landon and Bill Murphy. There were brief appearances by Fabiola Dayian and Mark Capone. Victor Giulianelli, CEO of St Mary’s Hospital attended with the hospital attorney when the committee debated changes that affected the hospital.

Some issues gave way to heated debate and soliloquy and it was not always obvious when we did or didn’t have a consensus because of sporadic attendance. The public meetings held last November and December were poorly attended as most people (including myself) had little knowledge of exactly what zoning entailed. I did get an education both in zoning and local government through this process and I am grateful to Mayor Thane for appointing me to this committee.

After the June 1st meeting, the plan is to the Common Council for a their review, a public meeting along with reviews by the City Planning Commission and County Planning Board. Notice then needs to be sent to surrounding municipalities and a state environmental quality review done.

Download the entire draft by clicking on the following link:

Zoning Ordinance Update


Previous blog entry with links to all of the Zoning Update documents can be found here.


Categories: Amsterdam, historic preservation, Law | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Zoning Changes

This image taken today March 6, 2011, reminds us of the promise of spring as the snow begins to melt and the rain falls on Route 5 in Amsterdam. The image is a personal reminder of the effect of visual communication, as I created the graphics for this Hill & Markes, Inc. truck just a few short years ago. What we can also see in this image, taken from my bedroom window, is the devastation done to the city under the guise of urban renewal. Neighborhoods were destroyed by a plan that would reroute traffic around the city center, contributing to the decline of our economy.

I wrote many letters and complained on local blogs about the situation. I read the entire 2003 City of Amsterdam Comprehensive Plan that recommended many changes to overcome the obstacles caused by urban renewal. One of the first recommendations of this plan was to rewrite our zoning ordinances.  Because of my continued interest in wanting to see the goals of the Comprehensive Plan realized, I was asked by Mayor Thane to participate in a Zoning Update Committee. This committee consisted of city planners, attorneys, planning board members, and citizens from various parts of the city as well as the Mayor and Alderman Wills. Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and Planning (now rebranded Montgomery County Business Development Center) was hired by the Common Council to do the actual writing and research of the new zoning ordinance.  The first organizational meeting was in October of 2009 and beginning  January 2010, the Zoning Update Committee met once a month for nearly a year, with Montgomery County Planning to hammer out the plan.

A series of public meetings were held at the end of last year for Wards 1,2 and 3. The meetings were very poorly attended but enough information was gathered from the public to suggest changes were needed to the updates.  Public meetings for Wards 4 and 5 were cancelled and a series of changes were made to the proposed zoning ordinance.

A final public meeting to introduce the revised zoning ordinance will be held at Amsterdam City Hall, Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 6:30pm. A visual presentation will be given and the entire event will be televised on public access channel 17.  Questions and comments will be entertained from those present at the meeting and the plan is to take phone in comments as well. The meeting is open to everyone.

The following links contain downloadable PDF files concerning the proposed changes in the City of Amsterdam Zoning Ordinances.

Public Meeting Announcement

Final Draft of Zoning Ordinance Final Draft Zoning Map

Draft of Citywide Design Guidelines

Some major changes include the elimination of historic districts which were never enforced or officially adopted, a centralized downtown core zoned to encourage development, an employment zone along the Chuctanunda Creek/Forest Ave and an overall design guideline that applies to the entire city.

You can bitch all you want about how city government is not serving you but unless you are willing to stand up and be counted, nothing will change.  Wednesday’s public meeting is an opportunity to be heard before the ordinance is adopted by the Common Council. Remember, this is an election year, so your opinion will count!

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

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