Village of Hastings-on-Hudson

Community Vision for Comprehensive Planning

I.  Background

Over the past decade, Hastings has been moving deliberately toward the development of a comprehensive plan.  Public discussions, as well as professional and community studies, have been used to define and focus the plan.  In 1988, a document entitled Planning Principles was developed to “foster land use that is appropriate to the location, size and character of the community.”  The Zoning Code was revised and adopted in 1994. This code has been augmented by specific legislation regarding issues such as accessory apartments, steep slopes and affordable housing. Together, these documents have been utilized over the years to help shape a village which people enjoy and are proud of.  Nevertheless, the need for a supplemental review of those documents was deemed essential in order to allow the village to respond more appropriately and more quickly to the changes facing it. 

In 1996, under mandate from the Board of Trustees, the Planning Board initiated a process to facilitate public involvement in a review of current policies and an assessment of potential opportunities and threats which could impact the village.  The goal was to develop a community vision which would provide a comprehensive framework on which to base future decision-making. 

The process started with a review by professional planning consultants, Ferrandino & Associates, of all prior plans (dating back to the fifties) and a baseline study of conditions in and around Hastings today.  In 1996, five public meetings were held to inform citizens of the study’s findings and to provide them with the opportunity to express their concerns and desires.  Five study groups - population & housing, community amenities, village core scenarios, business district, and the world around us - were formed and held over twenty-five separate meetings.  Each group prepared a report, all of which were then combined into one document, “A Community Vision for Hastings’ Future”.  Three critical-issue forums were held in 1997 to obtain public comment on the document and findings. 

II.  Basic Vision

Although a wide range of views and interests were expressed during the process, two goals were almost universally endorsed, and serve as the basis for the community vision. Both of those goals are proclaimed in our community’s name the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson.  

          1.  The first goal is to maintain our existing character as a village community.  The size of both physical structures and population growth must be of a Village scale, and every effort must be made to continue and enhance the sense of community.  A viable downtown and healthy local institutions (e.g. schools, library, volunteer fire companies) are critical in accomplishing this. 

2.  The second goal is to re-establish our connection to the Hudson River.  The waterfront must be reclaimed and developed as an integral part of our community, and recognized as part of our regional context with neighboring Hudson River municipalities. 

III.  Basis for Strategic Actions

In order to accomplish the goals identified above, several findings of the study groups were deemed as critical factors on which to base an action plan.  These factors should be recognized and accepted in order to ensure a balanced community for the future.

1.  Hastings is a mature village with few open areas that are either not built on, institutionally owned, or dedicated as open space.  Almost all of the residential areas are built out.  There has been only a 3% growth in housing units since 1970. 

2.  There are underdeveloped lots/areas in the commercial district, but the zoning in the district is so restrictive that there is no economic incentive to infill or redevelop these areas.  Furthermore, these underdeveloped portions of the commercial district are often hilly and rocky with steep and narrow streets and may be unsuitable for intensive development.

3.  Green areas and open space are extensive and their maintenance is critical to the character of Hastings.  The fact of open space, the appearance of having open space, and the access to open space are important and must be considered in planning, particularly if any of the few remaining undedicated larger tracts are developed. 

4.  In the commercial district as well as the residential areas, traffic flow, pedestrian circulation and parking are major concerns and must be considered carefully, particularly in any growth plans.

5..  Hastings has and wishes to retain a diverse and dynamic population.  Economic factors that are tending to sharply increase housing prices will, over time, reduce this diversity.  We should strive to maintain our traditional mix of age, income level, and lifestyles.  

 IV.  Proposed Actions

 While the Planning Board recognizes that planning is a dynamic process and the community’s vision will continue to evolve in response to changing circumstances,   the study process has identified key policies and decisions which warrant immediate attention. In an effort to provide a framework for the implementation of these recommendations, a strategic action plan has been developed.  The action plan outlines, by land-use type and summary vision statements, the related planning principles, current goals, and related village actions required to achieve the vision.

 The steps identified in the action plan are of two general types:  those designed to lead directly to the achievement of a goal and those where the goal is clear but the means to get there need more detailed study.  In order to proceed efficiently with either type of action, several broader, enabling steps are necessary.

 First, the village should formally adopt this Community Vision and Strategic Action Plan as the comprehensive plan which will guide future land-use decisions within the village and provide a context for our Zoning Code and other land-use regulations.

 Second, in order to ensure that all implications of the proposed actions are considered, it will be important to receive input on an on-going basis from the appropriate village boards and commissions.  To achieve this, the Planning Board will convene regular meetings with the Affordable Housing Committee, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Conservation Commission, the Architectural Review Board and other boards and committees as appropriate.  Coordinated activity among these bodies will be essential to the implementation of the strategic actions and, ultimately, the achievement of the vision goals.

 Third, by hiring a professional planner, the village will be in a better position to proactively engage in planning, rather than simply reacting to issues as they arise. 

 

Village of Hastings-on-Hudson

Strategic Action Plan

 

Waterfront 

The Hudson River is a unique and significant geographic feature of Hastings-on-Hudson.  Access to, visibility, use and enjoyment of the waterfront are vital to the community.

 Planning Principles

1.  New development in the Waterfront District should be primarily a combination of residential, recreational, and appropriate water-enhanced commercial activities.  Therefore, clean-up activities should provide for future development of all potential uses.    

2.  Visibility of the Hudson River is important and building design must provide for open-view corridors.  Structures and plantings should not wall off the river;  some west views should be open even at street level;  special attention should be given to the most public views.  Figure 1 provides a representation of some of these ideas. 

3.  The land lying between the Hudson River and the MTA Metro-North Railroad, although designated as a “waterfront district,” is an integral part of the village, and requires public streets and adequate provision for north-south vehicular circulation with appropriate east-west crossroads.

4.  The waterfront should be open to the public, with full pedestrian access from north to south and a broad plaza connecting the existing village core and the river.  

5.  Careful consideration should be given to the preservation of historic elements on the waterfront.  Items such as the water tower and portions of selected brick structures should be woven into the planning of any future development.   

6.  Planning for the waterfront should be coordinated with that of the business district and the rest of the Village to ensure that the proper level of integration occurs.  

Current Goals

1.  New York State approval of Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).

2.  Maximum possible clean-up of the waterfront. 

3.  Establishment of a community consensus on waterfront development guidelines emphasizing its relationship to the rest of the village, and the enhancement of the transportation node in the vicinity of the railroad station.  See Figure 1 for an illustrative example of the goal.

4.  Ultimately, development of the waterfront in a manner consistent with and reflective of Village goals. 

 Related Village Actions

1. Maintain community participation in LWRP process.

2. Prepare, finalize and adopt LWRP. 

3. Maintain coordinated communication with NYS agencies and all waterfront property owners and neighboring municipalities.

4. Modify waterfront district zoning in accordance with the LWRP.

5. Determine where land acquisition may be required to accomplish appropriate development. 

6. Establish a ‘special projects’ funding plan, and explore opportunities for outside funding.  

   

Village Core

A vibrant village core is essential to the economic and socio-cultural

well-being of the entire village.

 

Planning Principles

1.  The area that includes the train station and its plaza, the library and the municipal building should be enhanced as a dynamic pedestrian and transportation node, especially since this area is key to the future integration of the waterfront and the village.  Figure 2 identifies the area deemed the Village Core, and presents a conceptual approach to planning for the area.

2.  Residential quarters are encouraged above stores in the central business district.

3.  Non-retail (e.g. residential, office, service) uses should be encouraged inside the current business district but outside the area of retail concentration.  Areas not effectively part of the business district, such as along Warburton Avenue south of Washington Avenue, should be considered for rezoning to a form of residential use.

 

Current Goals

1.  Enhancement of the identity and appearance of the downtown.

2.  Addition of more retail variety.

3.  Increase in the volume of retail customers.

4.  Establish incentives for residential units in the downtown.

 

Related Village Actions

1.  Redraw the zoning map to reflect that area within the commercial district which is considered to be the downtown - including the Food Emporium property. 

2.  Review and amend the Zoning Code to ensure that new commercial development is confined to the commercial district and part of the waterfront.

3.  Amend the Zoning Code  to provide greater flexibility with respect to parking requirements for new businesses in the commercial district, and to better reflect the different intensity of uses located within the business district. 

4.  Develop a downtown parking plan, perhaps as part of the LWRP.

5.  Build on initiatives to be established by the Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Rivertowns to promote a variety of activities within the downtown, such as special events programs highlighting restaurants, boat clubs, street markets and art exhibits.

6.  Continue efforts to improve signage and streetscapes. 

 

 

Residential Areas

It is important that Hastings remain a unified community with a diverse population

utilizing a central school, library and recreational facilities.

 Planning Principles

1.  Separate, enclosed residential enclaves should be discouraged.

2.  Future development should provide housing and amenities for people of varying income levels and ages, including housing for the elderly.

3.  New housing should be encouraged in already developed areas, including the waterfront and the downtown.  New housing on the large tracts will need to be carefully designed to relate to and or connect with existing neighborhoods and to preserve their open space character.

4.  Hastings can absorb an increase in population, but such an increase should be limited to the capacity of the community infrastructure.  

5.  New residential development should be designed to produce more village and school tax revenues than any additional costs of village and school services attributable to the development.  

Current Goals

1.  Completion of plans and approvals for 30 affordable housing units on sites throughout the Village.  See Figure 3 for locations identified by the Affordable Housing Committee as possible sites.

2.  Development of guidelines for addressing the scale and style of potential residential units in the waterfront district as part of the LWRP.

3.  Completion of a plan for development of Ridge Street.

4.  Review potential for infill housing opportunities and assess the impacts of such housing on existing neighborhoods. 

Related Village Actions

1.  Support the affordable housing committee in its efforts to move forward with the construction of affordable housing units on multiple sites. See Figure 3 for possible locations.

2.  Undertake the development of scenarios for addressing the vacant parcels of land located along Ridge Street.  Rezone Ridge Street as appropriate.

3. Secure funding for Ridge Street infrastructure improvements.

 

Parks, Trailways, and Other Public Spaces

Outdoor public spaces, both those conducive to solitude and those for community gatherings, are essential to village life, as are the pedestrian routes needed to access these spaces.

 

Planning Principles

1.  Development of the waterfront must include one (or more) public, water-related parks.

2.  Any new development in the village should accommodate expansion of the existing trailway system, as identified on Figure 4a, and promote connections to regional trailways.

3.  Park areas should be periodically reviewed in light of changing community needs and desires related to both passive and active recreation.

 Current Goals

1.  Adoption of the trailway plan as identified on Figure 4a. 

2.  Physical expansion of the trailway system by acquiring additional right-of-ways and easements, and undertaking trail construction in accordance with Figure 4b.

3.  Upgrade Draper and MacEachron Parks as part of a comprehensive, on-going parks and recreational facilities program. 

4.  Establishment of design and use concepts for development of parkland on the waterfront in conjunction with the LWRP process.

5.  Development of activities to address the social and athletic needs of the teenagers in the village. 

 Related Village Actions

1.  Publish and distribute parks and trailways map.

2.  Initiate an effort to organize community-based park volunteers.

3.  Develop a long-term park restoration and maintenance program.

4.  Install additional benches, information kiosks, and other amenities which will enhance the sense of community and provide small, informal gathering places.  

5.  Investigate potential renovations to the Harmon Community Center to make it a more welcoming facility. 

6.  Investigate ways to expand and acquire land for incorporation as part of the trailway systems as identified on Figures 4a and 4b. 

7.  Determine most appropriate methods to acquire additional parkland on the waterfront. 

 

 

Large Land Tracts

The remaining tracts of open private land provide an important environmental asset and play a major role in defining the character of the village.

Planning Principles

1.  In light of village topography and the extent of existing development, the impact on traffic, parking, sewage, drainage, solid waste, soil conditions and air quality must be considered in any future development of open land.

2. Several of the major land tracts line the major roadways in Hastings.  The open space character of many of those parcels is important to the environmental and aesthetic quality of the village. See Figure 5 for those parcels exhibiting open space character.

 

Current Goals

1.  Development of a greenspace overlay plan to be mapped on the larger open tracts located along the major roadways.

2.  Completion of an assessment of potential cluster housing and setback options related to overlay zones.

 

Related Village Actions

1.  Develop a greenspace overlay zone with related legislation. 

3.  Review the zoning of all large tracts.