On Saturday, local officials and members of the public met to kickoff the Nyack Green Infrastructure Roundtable, aimed at improving the village’s codes.
The first discussion featured talks from various advocates, including Nyack Zoning Board Chair Catherine Friesen, who went over Nyack’s results on Code and Ordinance Worksheet for Development Rules in New York State. The worksheet breaks down into three categories: preservation of natural features and conservation design, reduction of impervious cover and source control for storm water management.
“The results of that process suggested that there are areas where we can definitely improve our code and there are areas that we may want to discuss in the roundtable process,” she said.
She added that it’s still a work in process.
“It really one provides a starting point for discussion so that the committees know where we are and they can decide together where we want to be,” she said.
Friesen went over each category and talked about where Nyack scored high and low. With the lows, Friesen also brought up questions for the committees to think about.
In preservation of natural features and conservation design, she said a high was the new zoning code incorporated on Jan. 1, 2010. That plan contains general site design standards, enhanced tree protection standards, steep slope law to minimize development on environmentally sensitive areas and erosion and sediment control provisions.
With the lows for preservation of natural features and conservation design, Friesen asked if the waterfront area adequately protected by zoning code, the existing flood damage prevention law and waterfront consistency review act. She also brought up these questions:
- Are there conservation or other incentives that could encourage preservation of natural resources?
- Can we further improve our tree ordinance to maximize benefits in an urban setting?
- Should we require “native” vegetation in buffering areas?
- Would a stream overlay district benefit the village?
- What barriers or impediments exist to the enforcement of existing laws that protect our natural resources?
- How can the public be better educated about their requirements?
- Does the code adequately address the existing non-conformities that would require retrofits? Are there certain existing conditions that we want to prohibit or create incentives for voluntarily fixing?
Included in the two highs listed in the reduction of impervious cover category was that Nyack adopted much of the New York state sample local law for stormwater management, which incorporates the stormwater design manual as the technical standard. The other high was that for all new development requiring a site development plan, the zoning code requires: zero net incremental discharge of runoff from the development site, impervious paving and walks be minimized and that storm water be managed in certain ways that encourage use of certain better site design.
The lows for reduction of impervious cover included small lots and land development activity, pavement and parking lots.
With source control for storm water management, Friesen said the highs were storm water pollution prevention, new storm sewer and Orangetown’s sewer law, which prohibits the continued existence of connections to the town’s sanitary sewer system, including cellar drains, footing drains and sump pumps.
The lows for source control for storm water management, Friesen said, are clarity, developments on small lots and existing non-conformities, enforcement and education, public outreach and incentives for retrofits.