Malta Considers Commercial Corridor Design Standards

Malta Considers Establishing Commercial Corridor Design Standards

MALTA – Members of the planning department presented their recommendations for the Commercial Corridor Design Standards and Guidelines to the Town Board Monday.

Malta Considers Commercial Corridor Design Standards

The Malta Town Board considers the planning department’s recommendations for the Commercial Corridor Design Standards and Guidelines./Photo by Ashley Onyon.

The design standards and guidelines were developed in response to zoning changes to Route 9 and Route 67 West. The guidelines would only be applicable to the commercial properties on Route 9 and 67 West if adopted, but could be applied to other portions of town in the future at the board’s discretion.

Senior Planner Shelley Norton outlined the changes that the guidelines would introduce if adopted. The new guidelines would reduce the transparency guidelines for the first floor of hotels. This means that hotels would not be required to have as many windows on the first floor as other commercial buildings in town.

Norton explained that the change from the town’s form based code was a result of variance requests that had been granted to the hotels in town due to the number of bedrooms located on the first floor of those buildings.

Under the guidelines commercial properties along Route 9 and 67 would be required to have concrete crosswalks extending across new driveways rather than a painted or striped crosswalk. Norton explained that the painted lines require more upkeep from property owners who must have them repainted periodically presenting an enforcement challenge to the town.

The concrete crosswalk would last longer, alleviating these challenges from property owners and the town. The standards also call for a standardization of sidewalks regarding color and size, as well as requiring that sidewalks along Route 9 and 67 adhere to the guidelines for accessibility set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Councilwoman Maggie Ruisi asked if the concrete crosswalks would deteriorate more quickly than a crosswalk painted on an asphalt driveway from vehicles driving over it, questioning whether a property owner who did not tend to repainting would be more likely to repair the concrete portion of the driveway.

Building and Planning Coordinator Anthony Tozzi said that the concrete would likely deteriorate sooner than a typical sidewalk due to traffic and the use of salt, but that it would not be much of a difference.

The new standards would eliminate the maximum light output cap per site and light color requirements. Norton said that the items were eliminated as the Town Board intends to review sign code and light standards for the entire town in the near future.

The town had previously set a requirement that new developments create “amenity space” on five percent of the property, meaning that land being developed must include an area for recreation, seating or other purposes. The new guidelines would extend the requirement to redeveloped sites, so that five percent of the land being redeveloped must be made into amenity space.

Town Councilman John Hartzell thanked Tozzi and Norton for, “their work at cleaning this up and trying to make it fit other parts of town so we have some kind of uniformity throughout town. That has been an important objective and a nice effort on their part.”

The board voted unanimously to set a public hearing on the Commercial Corridor Design Standards and Guidelines to be held on Monday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. during the regular Town Board meeting.

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Reporter Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She wrote for the Mohawk Valley Compass for two years covering the GASD Board of Education. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.

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