At its Tuesday meeting, the Red Hook Town Board introduced a local law to enact a temporary moratorium on new projects in the Traditional Neighborhood District Commercial Center (TND-CC), Agricultural Business (AB), RD3, and RD5 districts so the town can review its zoning laws to resolve questions about a new sewer system, changes to state law around wetlands, and whether subdivisions of large farming parcels are consistent with updated comprehensive plans.

A decision on whether or not to build a sewer system in the TND-CC zoning district (Route 9 south of Rhinebeck Bank) could impact the area’s zoning. A sewer system will support more restaurants, apartments, and other businesses that rely on water.

“Mighty Donuts’ success shows our amazing potential, and our residents are hungry for more,” Red Hook Town Supervisor Robert McKeon told the Observer. “We want to ensure we have the support to create the sewer district and give those businesses all the tools they need to succeed.”

The law would also hold off on any projects within 300 feet of a wetland while the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) updates its rules to implement changes made to New York’s Freshwater Wetlands Act in 2022 that take effect in 2025. The goal is not to begin a project approval process only to have it restarted when the DEC puts new rules in place.

“The state’s revisions are transformative in terms of how they view wetlands,” Deputy Supervisor Bill Hamel told the Observer. That’s the most important reason we need to pause, not be reactive, and look at the zoning holistically and see how it all fits together.”

Finally, the law would temporarily suspend any subdivision proposals in the Agricultural Business District – essentially large farm parcels – until the town reviews the zoning to ensure it remains consistent with comprehensive plans, including Dutchess County’s “Greenway Compact Program.” Red Hook has followed a Centers and Greenspaces philosophy of preserving farms and open space and redirecting that development and density into walkable villages and business districts to prevent commercial strip development and residential sprawl.

The proposed moratoriums will expire at the end of 2024. A public hearing on the local law has been scheduled for March 27, 2024 at 7:35 pm.

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