100 Ideas for New Paltz

19. develop a northern gateway into the village along route 32 north

Re-zone Route 32 North between the Salvation Army and Agway as high-density, mixed use development like downtown. This work was started several years ago; including having a well attended community visioning session and an initial report from Behan Planning, the firm hired by the Village to manage the project.



20. grow the downtown uptown

Re-zone Route 299 between the Teen Seen and the Thruway to require mixed use, walkable, high-density development. This should include retrofitting the Ames Plaza, Cherry Hill Plaza and Eckerd’s Plaza into mixed-use buildings by adding two-three stories of apartments on top of the strip malls.


21. grow the downtown up towards the college

Re-zone Plattekill Avenue from downtown to the college as mixed use, traditional neighborhood development.

plattekill ave

22. make ohioville a hamlet again

Re-zone the area around the intersection of Route 299, North Ohioville, Plutarch and South Ohioville into a mixed-use, high density neighborhood development


23. make the gateway district mixed use

Make the village Gateway District around Water Street Market and the Gilded Otter into walkable, mixed use, traditional neighborhood development, rather than a commercial-only district.

24. outlaw subsidized sprawl

Since suburban developments cost $1.25 in services for every $1.00 generated in tax revenue, outlaw any private subdivision or development project that would cost more in taxes than it generates in revenue.

  • From the Ohio State University Fact Sheet on Cost of Community Services, “Many of the early studies providing estimates of [Cost Of Community Services] ratios were either sponsored or conducted by the American Farmland Trust. But in recent years a great number of other researchers from a variety of backgrounds have undertaken such studies. The results seem to corroborate each other. Virtually all of the studies show that for residential land, the COCS ratio is substantially above 1. That is, residential land is a net drain on local government budgets. The average estimate ranges from about 1.15 to 1.50, which means that for every dollar collected in taxes and non-tax revenue, between $1.15 and $1.50 gets returned in the form of services by the local government and school district.
  • From SmartGrowth America, “…sprawling development rarely brings about the economic benefits anticipated. While it is true that an acre of land with a new house generates more total revenue than an acre of hay or corn, the cost of providing infrastructure and services to that property is greater for residential development than for commercial, farm, or forest land. Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies conducted in more than 83 communities show that owners of farm, forest and open lands pay more in local tax revenues than it costs local government to provide services to their properties. Residential land uses, in contrast, are a net drain on municipal coffers: It costs local governments more to provide services to homeowners than residential landowners pay in property taxes.”

25. create the tools necessary to outlaw subsidized sprawl

Create a matrix of all of the costs of maintaining roads, water, sewer and administration so that the Town and Village Planning Boards can calculate how much it would cost to maintain prospective building projects (i.e., how many dollars per foot does it cost to repair and plow roads, how much does it cost to repair and replace water lines, and compare that to how many buildings would be built along that road, etc.)

26. shift from use-based zoning to form-based zoning

Replace the Town and Village use-based zoning codes with more flexible, organic form-based zoning codes. A form-based code is defined by the Form-Based Code Institute as:

A method of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form. Form-based codes create a predictable public realm primarily by controlling physical form, with a lesser focus on land use, through city or county regulations.

Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in Form-based codes, presented in both diagrams and words, are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development rather than only distinctions in land-use types. This is in contrast to conventional zoning’s focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g., FAR, dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, traffic LOS) to the neglect of an integrated built form. Not to be confused with design guidelines or general statements of policy, Form-based codes are regulatory, not advisory.”

One fine example of a form-based code is the SmartCode.  The developers of the SmartCode explain it’s use this way,

“Conventional zoning separates uses, forcing everyone to drive to work and shopping and creating traffic congestion, while only minimally regulating form. Parking lots and curb cuts are allowed to dominate the frontages, creating a hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

The SmartCode regulates form more strongly to enhance pedestrian safety and enjoyment, and to structure networks of streets that relieve traffic congestion. The SmartCode does address use, but the Transect zones signify different intensities of mixed use. Notice that in the Retail illustration, which shows a typical T-5 zone, the SmartCode allows Residential along with the Retail, in the form of apartments over shops. This helps keep housing affordable and enables “eyes on the street,” walkability, and vibrant downtowns.”


27. lower rent

According to the 200 census, the Village of New Paltz has a .46% vacancy rate for rental housing. Studies have shown that a community needs at least a 5% vacancy rate to avoid inflation of housing prices. At a 5% rate, land-lords have to compete for tenants just enough that they maintain their properties better and keep prices reasonably low and affordable. Using development of high-density, mixed use neighborhoods, build enough new housing to establish a 5% vacancy rate.

29. no more mcmansions

Set a cap on square footage for residential construction. There is no reason for McMansions; besides being aesthetically damaging, they undermine the rural character of New Paltz that so many cherish.