New Zoning Laws Lead to Quick Redesign

Plans approved in 2014, but Beacon developer had to revise

By Jeff Simms

The Jan. 9 Beacon Planning Board meeting provided the first look at how some developments — in this case, the long-delayed 248 Tioronda project — will look after the city’s recent zoning changes.

The development, which was approved in 2014 with 100 one- and two-bedroom apartments on a 9-acre parcel, has yet to begin construction. Project officials were due to appear before the City Council this month as a condition of a special use permit extension it received in 2016.

Three weeks ago, however, the council changed the zoning in the Fishkill Creek district where 248 Tioronda is located, voiding its approved plans. The development must now seek new approval for its concept drawings from the City Council and site-plan approval from the Planning Board.

The site of the Tioronda development (File photo by J. Simms)

To meet the new zoning requirements, the project was scaled back from 100 to 64 units, said Larry Boudreau, the project’s engineer.

“It’s been extremely difficult to revise,” he said while sharing preliminary sketches with Planning Board members on Tuesday (Jan. 9). “All the infrastructure costs — with 600 feet of road going up to Wolcott Avenue and the greenway trail — we had them all set and ready to go, and now we’re trying to make it work with less units.”

The new plans show the 64 two-bedroom units in two creekside buildings along with a 20,000-square-foot commercial building. A pavilion was retained from the previous plan but a tenant clubhouse was scrapped.

A 2,000-foot greenway — a major component of Beacon’s planned Fishkill Creek Greenway & Heritage Trail — is still there, although Alexander Blakely, an architect, was unsure where it would lie.

“The challenge now is making the project viable for 64 units, a larger commercial area and what is becoming a challenging situation with the parking,” he explained. With the addition of the commercial space, the development requires about 190 spaces, 40 more than before.

The council’s rezoning included a provision that buildable, rather than gross, acreage would be used to determine a parcel’s building density. In the case of 248 Tioronda, density is now calculated on just under 6 acres, rather than 9, with 3 acres of floodways, steep slopes and wetlands removed.

The changes also require developments in the creekside zone to include at least 25 percent commercial space. The council is now considering zoning changes for the Main Street corridor and could extend the density-calculation provision citywide.

Planning Board Chair John Gunn called the new plans for 248 Tioronda a “vast improvement.” Board member David Burke praised them as well, but still said it looked too dense.

The buildings — formerly designed with peaked roofs — were redesigned with an industrial look that “has more of a Beacon-type feel,” Boudreau said.