MALTA – Developers of the Park Place Planned Development District asked the Town Board to consider amending the PDD for the commercial area at the front of the project, reducing the density of the area and following the town’s form based code.
Steven Wilson of Bohler Engineering appeared before the Town Board during Monday’s regular meeting to present proposed amendments to the Park Place PDD on Route 9, that was first approved in 2003. The entire PDD encompasses approximately 70 acres of land with 8.8 acres designated for commercial space and the remainder designated for residential use.
The PDD originally allowed for 115,000 square feet of commercial space and was intended to have an urban form utilizing larger buildings along the edges of Route 9 with parking in the rear.
While the residential portion of the PDD is currently under construction, Wilson said that the commercial area has remained undeveloped due to a lack of market to support that level of investment in the site.
“We were brought on board to start looking at what the site could be from a commercial stand point,” Wilson explained. “We looked at the town’s Form Based Code to try to define how the site could be developed in a commercial manner consistent with the overall goals of the town while we balanced what the market could support and what it was looking for in the commercial real estate market in the Town of Malta.”
The PDD is not subject to the regulations of the Form Based Code, as the project was approved before the Code was enacted. According to Town Building and Planning Coordinator Anthony Tozzi, the previous Town Board had discussed including the PDD in the Form Based Code, ultimately deciding against it.
The Town Board decided instead to leave it to the Malta Planning Board to hold the PDD to the town’s design standards during the approval process. In the proposed amendment to the PDD, Wilson used the form based code as template, seeking to follow the town’s GC-3 zoning that is applied to the neighboring properties on Route 9.
The GC-3 zoning suggests building setbacks of 50 feet encouraging green space along the street, increased use of windows on buildings, building heights of 40 feet or less, primary entrances to buildings facing the street and utilizing approximately 35 percent of a site for green space.
Wilson presented a possible layout for the site following these zoning requirements, showing possible retail and restaurant buildings of various sizes. The plan showed the buildings with varying setbacks from the road and green space options, to show the flexibility of the site.
Wilson noted that the target market for the design would be national retail and restaurant chains. “We’re trying to respond to an ever-changing real estate market,” Wilson said. “Between online shopping and changes in consumer patterns, flexibility is important to adapt, as who knows what people are going to be looking for in five years.”
The proposed PDD amendment calls for 80,000 square feet of commercial space, down from the originally approved 115,000 square feet. The PDD was limited to a maximum of 6,000 square feet of restaurant space. The amendment seeks to remove the limit on specific uses, instead seeking to cap the project at a single commercial maximum square footage.
When asked by Town Board Member John Hartzell why the developer wished to reduce the density of the project, Wilson answered that it seemed like a more realistic estimate of what the site could support. The original PDD called for multi-story buildings, which Wilson said the market could not currently support.
Hartzell went on to ask if Wilson would object to following all of the town’s design standards, noting that there were a number of standards that he had left out in his presentation. Wilson said that that he did not think that it would be a problem to do so.
Hartzell, then asked Tozzi how difficult it would be to incorporate the town design standards into the PDD. Tozzi explained that it would be easy to do by reference, prompting Town Board Member Timothy Dunn to ask if the PDD uses would conform to the GC-3 zoning.
“In the GC-3 the uses would not be as plentiful as in the next zone north,” Tozzi said. Wilson’s representative plan showed a pharmacy, which would not be permitted under the zoning rules and restaurant space would be impacted.
In order to advance the amendment process for the Park Place PDD, the Town Board voted unanimously on a resolution declaring lead agency over the State Environmental Quality Review Act for the project. The resolution also calls for the proposed amendments to be brought before the Malta Planning Board and the Saratoga County Planning Board for review and comment.