100 Ideas for New Paltz

6. protect wetlands in the village

Posted in environment, planning and construction, stormwater, wallkill river, zoning by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Protect the environment and reduce flooding by passing a wetlands and watercoures protection law. Much of the work on this legislation has already been done.

In 2005 I revised the wetlands law passed by the Town to fit the needs of the Village – notably strengthening the enforcement provisions by eliminating the option to pay a fee in order to mitigate damage to wetlands.  I brought that law to the Village Board, where Michael Zierler suggested that we set up a task force to review the law and see if it met the village’s needs and if, in fact, we needed a law at all.  That task force – made up of myself, Colin Apse of the Nature Conservancy, Rachel Lagodka of the Environmental Commission and Laura Heady of the Hudson River Estuary Program – unanimously recommended that a local law was our best option for protecting wetlands.

Simply put, the law requires that anyone who wants to build near a wetland has to have that wetland checked out first — if there is no harm in building whatever is in question, then the project goes through the normal process.  If there would be harm to the project, the project has to be redesigned to avoid that harm, or the person in question can’t build what they want.

In order to find where there may be wetlands, we hired Hudsonia, Ltd to perform two wetland habitat assessments – one for the proposed Millbrook Greenway area, and one for the village as a whole.  Hudsonia’s maps showed several areas of the village where there were potentially important wetlands complexes — on the Woodland Pond/Stoneliegh Woods properties, along the Wallkill River, especially the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary and around the Rail Trail south of Water Street and others.

Due to criticism that the law could be difficult to understand procedurally, I created a simple flow chart to guide prospective builders through the process.

Finally, in order to make sure there were no unnecessary hoops for builders, I wrote a seperate Wetlands Protection Overlay District law that made sure that the wetlands law itself only applied to specific properties.  Those properties were the ones that had potential wetland, streams, river or buffer area somewhere on the property, according to Hudsonia.

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8. get rid of poison ivy in parks

Posted in agriculture, environment, parks, public health by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Borrow some goats from a local farm to graze at Sojourner Truth Park – goats eat poison ivy before grass, and they can eliminate poison ivy without use of toxic chemicals.

Thanks to Terence Ward for pointing out that only certain breeds of goats like poison ivy — Spanish and Angorra goats to be precise.

a spanish goat

a spanish goat

11. make all new buildings green buildings

Create requirements in the housing codes of the Town and Village requiring all new construction to meet minimum LEED standards, with incentives of expedited review or density bonuses to those who exceed the minimum standards.

12. move the dpw garage

Posted in infrastructure, planning and construction, smart growth by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Move the village Department of Public Works offices and garage down to the sewer plant

13. change which fire station is the main location

Posted in fire department, planning and construction, smart growth by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Move the Fire Department offices and meeting rooms to Fire Station #2 on North Putt Corners Road.

14. move village hall

Posted in infrastructure, planning and construction, smart growth by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Move Village Hall into the abandoned building behind Wachovia Bank

15. replace the village hall lot with downtown-type development

Re-zone and subdivide the Village Hall lot and the pit behind Village Hall to high density, mixed use downtown-like zoning.

Hire an architect to design the buildings to be built on the former Village Hall property, (keeping a small fire station on-site), and make the projects shovel-ready by having the Village Board work with the Planning Board to get all necessary approvals. That way, a builder has simply to buy the right to build this pre-approved building.

village hall

16. pay for new village offices with development rights

Posted in infrastructure, planning and construction, zoning by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Use the money earned through these shovel-ready buildings to pay for the demolition and re-location of Village Hall and the DPW

17. skate park

Posted in parks by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Turn the abandoned basketball court across from St. Joseph’s Church into a small skate park.

18. clean up medians and other often overlooked public spaces

Posted in art, infrastructure, parks, public health, sidewalks by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Work with the Town Court to coordinate more community-service projects to be supervised by the DPW and Town Buildings and Grounds Department in order to clean, repair and re-plant sidewalk landscaping and small medians around the Village and Town, possibly with a view towards using appropriate spaces for public art.