Albany rezone draft could mean big changes to city codes

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Happening Tuesday, Albany’s Planning Board will review the city’s final rezone draft, an initiative that would update codes within the city.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the update is long overdue and would make the city a better place to live, work and invest, but some business owners and residents have concerns.

The city’s zoning underwent several revisions in 1993, but hasn’t been totally rewritten since 1968.

According to city leaders, the current code is discouraging development in the city because of all the hoops investors and landlords are forced to jump through.

Planning board members say the regulations currently in place have made something as simple as putting up a fence, opening a business, or painting a house extremely difficult, and to many, not worth it.

While the plan would address issues in the downtown and warehouse districts, Rezone Albany focuses mostly on the Lark Street corridor.

The rezone would change how and when some businesses in the corridor are allowed to operate.

Many Lark Street bars and restaurants rely heavily on revenues from late night customers and feared the code changes would put them at a competitive disadvantage, potentially sending patrons to Troy and Schenectady for nightlife.

In response, a group of concerned business owners organized and voiced their concerns. They say the city and its rezone consultants listened to their concerns and compromised. What was originally an 11 p.m. closing time has been pushed to 2 a.m.

“They did a great job of meeting with business owners, residents, anybody of concern to kind of come to a deal that really works for everybody and really should help bolster investment in the city going forward for a long time,” said Daniel Atkins, owner of the Savoy Taproom & Chairman. “It’s been a little mish mosh here lately and this should make it a lot easier, and bring some new business to the city.”

Under the compromise, newly opened bars and restaurants can remain open till 2 a.m. Already established businesses are grandfathered into the existing 4 a.m. closing time.

 

The Albany Planning Board meeting to discuss the rezone draft is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Albany City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

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