Town of Clifton Park, NY
Saratoga County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 11-20-1989 by L.L. No. 25-1989]
It is the policy of the Town of Clifton Park to permit variation of lot size and housing types as part of subdivision platting in suitable areas in order to encourage flexibility of design; enable land to be developed in such a manner as to promote its most appropriate use; facilitate the economical provision of streets and utilities; preserve the natural and scenic qualities of open space; and harmonize new development with traditional open, rural, wooded, agricultural and hamlet landscapes of the town. To that end, the Town Board of the Town of Clifton Park, through its resolution approving these subdivision regulations, hereby adopts the provisions of § 281 of the Town Law of the Consolidated Laws of New York, and hereby grants to the Planning Board of the Town of Clifton Park the full authority set forth in that section to modify applicable provisions of the Zoning Law as they apply to a specific plat in a manner consistent herewith. The regulations contained in this article shall constitute the rules and regulations required by § 281 Subdivision (a) of the Town Law,[1] setting forth criteria pursuant to which an open space subdivision may be allowed. The Planning Board also maintains the authority to waive or modify applicable provisions of these Subdivision Regulations for the purposes indicated in § 179-33 of this article. Application for treatment as per the provisions of the article shall be entirely voluntary on the part of the applicant.
[1]
Editor's Note: Town Law § 281 was amended and redesignated as § 278 by L. 1992, c. 727, effective 7-1-1993.
This provision encourages flexibility in the design and development of land in order to promote the most appropriate use of land, to facilitate creativity in site design and buildings and to preserve, as permanent open space, agricultural land, important natural features, wildlife habitat, water resources, ecological systems and scenic areas for the benefit of present and future residents. An open space subdivision plan may involve grouping development on one or more portions of a parcel to permanently preserve other portions of it (cluster development), modifying road location and design and frontage requirements in return for permanent open space preservation measures (conservation density subdivision) or a combination of these approaches. An open space subdivision shall exhibit several of the following specific purposes:
A. 
Better protection of natural and scenic resources identified in the Master Plan and Zoning Law than would be provided by a conventional subdivision plan.
B. 
Compatibility with surrounding land uses.
C. 
Provision of adequate buffers for adjoining properties.
D. 
Contribution to town-wide open space planning by creating a system of permanently preserved open spaces, both within large parcels of land and among parcels throughout the town, providing linkages between existing open space areas.
E. 
Preservation of land suitable for agriculture, particularly where the open space subdivision borders active agricultural land or land suitable for agriculture.
F. 
Encouragement of creative solutions to building siting and infrastructure design.
G. 
Foster affordable housing to all sectors of the community by reducing costs through smaller lot sizes and/or less infrastructure.
A. 
Cluster subdivisions. A cluster subdivision accomplishes the purposes in § 179-33, above, by reducing the lot size and bulk requirements contained in the Zoning Law and by clustering homes in those areas where they will have the least impact on important resources. These resources are then permanently preserved through the use of conservation easements or other means of preserving open space such as fee simple dedications to the Town of Clifton Park.
B. 
Conservation density subdivisions. Conservation density subdivisions achieve the goals of § 179-33 through the creation of lots that average at least two times the minimum size required in the Zoning District. This low density is maintained in perpetuity through the use of permanent conservation easements or other means of preserving open space, such as fee simple dedications to the Town of Clifton Park. To encourage the establishment of these permanent low densities, the Planning Board may modify road specifications and lot dimensioning that would otherwise apply.
The procedure for submission, information to be provided, review and acceptance of an open space subdivision are similar to a standard subdivision pursuant to Articles I through IX. Each of three submission steps shall include appropriate information as required in Articles II, III and IV, in addition to specific information as may be required herein. For purposes of timing, all required notices, submissions and hearing and decision-making time frames of Articles I through IX shall apply to this article. All applications shall be submitted to the Department for review, referral to appropriate agencies and recommendation(s) prior to each decision step.
A. 
Voluntary application. If a sketch plan involves review under the provisions of this section, the Board may use its authority to permit an open space subdivision, if, in the judgment of the Board, the use of its authority will achieve the purposes in § 179-33 above and benefit the town. Land and environmental information may be requested at this step to assist in making such reports and determinations. If the Board accepts the sketch plan for an open space subdivision, the owner may proceed through the review process using procedures contained in Articles I through IX of these regulations and within the parameters contained in Subsection B below.
B. 
Presentation of cluster plan.
[Amended 12-20-1999 by L.L. No. 11-1999]
(1) 
When an applicant chooses to make application for treatment of a subdivision, as per the provisions of this article, so as to seek cluster preference, it shall be necessary for the applicant to establish that the proposed subdivision meets or complies with the following criteria:
(a) 
Total land area included in the proposed subdivision or contiguously held by the owner, whichever is greater, is 20 acres or more.
(b) 
Total number of lots is seven or more.
(2) 
The Planning Board may consider in its deliberations, when a cluster preference is applied for, factors or features of the property which shall be guidelines in its determination as to whether cluster preference shall be granted. Among those factors to be considered as guidelines are the following:
(a) 
Freshwater wetlands as mapped pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town of Clifton Park Local Wetlands Protection Map and federal wetlands pursuant to § 404 of the Clean Water Act.
[Amended 4-6-1998 by L.L. No. 2-1998]
(b) 
Watercourses as classified pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Stream Classification System or as mapped on the town's Official Stream Protection Map.
(c) 
Flood Hazard Area as mapped on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Insurance Rate Map.
(d) 
Critical environmental areas as designated by the Town Board.
(e) 
Aquifer recharge areas as mapped on the town's Official Aquifer Protection Map.
(f) 
Slopes in excess of 18%.
(g) 
Other areas of environmental or scenic significance as may be identified by the Planning Board.
A. 
Property within any Residential Zoning District(s) is eligible to be considered under this article.
B. 
An open space subdivision shall be independent and separated from an adjoining open space development unless it can be shown that integration of two or more such developments can be achieved. Integration means interconnection of utilities, roads and open space/recreation as well as siting and design compatibility.
C. 
When such a development is proposed adjacent to any existing residence or residential area, a suitable planted buffer area of at least 60 feet in depth shall be left between the closest lot line of any lot in an existing residential development area or a conventionally platted residential map that has been filed with the Saratoga County Clerk and the closest structure in the cluster development, unless such structure is one-family dwelling, in which case setbacks for that structure in that particular zoning district shall be met.
D. 
For a cluster subdivision, it is the intent of the Town of Clifton Park to encourage the modification of standard road requirements of Article X of these regulations as these pertain to carriageway width, drainage treatment, curbing, horizontal curve radii, tangents between reverse curves, maximum street grades except at intersections and the number of units and dimensioning of dead-end streets. However, there shall be no reduction of the ability of emergency services to provide service to the area, it being the intent of this article that the application for an open space subdivision shall in no way diminish or degrade the level of emergency services that would otherwise be provided by a standard subdivision.
E. 
An open space subdivision shall provide for appropriate multiuse pathways within the development and connections to existing or proposed pathways as found in the Master Plan or Good Neighbors Trail Plan of the Town of Clifton Park.
F. 
The area dedicated for open space purposes, including playgrounds and parks, shall be in an amount, location, quality and shape as is desirable for accessibility and open space preservation, as determined by the Director of Community Affairs and the Director of the Department of Planning.
G. 
All land not contained in the lots or the road right-of-way, if provided, shall be contiguous and of such size and shape as to be usable for recreation and/or open space.
A. 
Required plans. An application for cluster subdivision shall include all plans and materials required for a conventional subdivision under Articles I through IX of the Subdivision Regulations. In addition, a sketch plan of a conventional subdivision of the property conforming to the applicable minimum lot size, density requirements and all other normally applicable requirements of the district shall be submitted.
B. 
Allowable density. The Department shall review the conventional subdivision plan required in Subsection A above and shall determine the number of building lots for dwelling units that could be practically created pursuant to said plan, considering the requirements of these regulations and the Zoning Law, the requirements of the New York State Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation and the limitations of soils, topography, wetlands and other environmental features. The Department shall report its recommendation(s) to the Board, which shall establish the maximum number of units permitted in the subdivision, provided that the number of lots does not exceed the product of the subdivision's buildable land acreage and the dwelling units per acre as established by the Town Zoning Law. For the purposes of this article, proposed roadway areas and wetland buffer shall be considered in computing net acreage as part of the subdivision's buildable land acreage. A partial credit of one-to-two ration, or one acre of credit for every two acres of existing land, shall be granted for those wetland areas classified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as Class III wetlands or Class W wetlands and for those wetlands designated as such by the Army Corps of Engineers in computing buildable land acreage. No credit shall be accorded for Class I or Class II DEC wetlands, Class I through Class W wetlands being defined by NYCRR Part 663 (Freshwater Wetlands Permit Requirements).
[Amended 10-26-1992 by L.L. No. 9-1992]
C. 
Permitted uses. Dwelling units in a cluster development may be provided in one-family or two-family dwelling structures.
D. 
Lot sizes and dimensions.
(1) 
Lot sizes should, on average, be reduced by no more than 50% of the lot size(s) of the underlying zoning district(s).
[Amended 4-6-1998 by L.L. No. 2-1998]
(2) 
[1]Setback lines shall be determined by the Planning Board at the time of application and no later than time of final approval. If the Planning Board fails to specify, setbacks specified for that particular zoning district shall apply.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection D(2), pertaining to parcels subject to environmental overlay districts, was repealed 4-6-1998 by L.L. No. 2-1998. This local law also redesignated former Subsection D(3) as D(2).
E. 
Open space. All lands identified as having special resource value and/or not included in a cluster subdivision as building lots shall be set aside as permanent open space or otherwise dedicated pursuant to § 179-39 below.
The Planning Board is hereby empowered to modify applicable provisions of the Zoning Law and these regulations for the purpose of encouraging the preservation of large tracts of open space by affording flexibility to landowners in road layout and design and relationships of lots to said roads, if and only if such landowners commit to the permanent preservation of significant open space resources. The following standards and procedure shall be followed by the Planning Board in reviewing applications for approval of a conservation density subdivision.
A. 
Waiver of road/lot requirements. Dimensional requirements of lots and relationships between roads and lots of the Zoning Law and these regulations may be waived by the Planning Board pursuant to this section, provided that all of the following requirements are met:
(1) 
The average lot size in the proposed subdivision is at least two times the minimum lot size required in the Zoning District.
(2) 
A permanent conservation easement or other device is placed on the land to be subdivided, to maintain its natural scenic and agricultural qualities and to assure that it will not be subdivided to a density higher than that permitted in Subsection A(1) above.
(3) 
Written approval of the Town Highway Superintendent and Director of the Department of Planning shall be secured, indicating that such a modification will maintain or enhance the rural quality of the area, benefit the town and accomplish the purposes in § 179-33 above.
(4) 
Adequate access to all parcels can be assured.
B. 
Private roads. The Planning Board may grant an exception to the road design standards of these regulations and approve private roads to provide access to lots in conservation density subdivisions. In granting such exceptions, the Board must find that the proposed subdivision accomplishes the purposes set forth in § 179-33 above and meets all of the conditions of this section and such other reasonable conditions as the Planning Board deems appropriate under the particular circumstances. Anyone proposing a subdivision under this portion of the subdivision regulations will also be required to specifically address mitigating measures to be provided to avoid any potential reduction of the ability of emergency services to provide service to the area, it being the intent of this article that the application for a private roadway shall in no way diminish or degrade the level of emergency services that would otherwise be provided by a standard subdivision.
(1) 
The average size of the lots within the subdivision, including any residual land, must be at least two times the lot size required within the applicable zone and in no event less than a three-acre minimum average lot size.
(2) 
The maximum number of lots using the proposed private road shall be eight.
(3) 
The applicant shall submit to the department, as part of the application for preliminary plat approval, a professional engineer's drawings showing the exact location, dimensions and grade of the road, as well as the specifications setting forth the proposed composition of the road.
(4) 
Written approval from the Town Superintendent of Highways and the Department shall be secured before approval of any private roads.
(5) 
The private road may never be offered for dedication to the Town of Clifton Park unless it conforms to minimum town highway specifications in effect on the date of the offer of dedication. The final subdivision plat shall note the same. In the event such dedication becomes necessary to assure public safety, the cost of bringing the road up to town highway specifications shall be borne by the homeowners' association (HOA) or homeowners served by the roadway.
(6) 
The applicant shall submit a detailed plan with draft documents which specify the manner in which the private roadway is to be maintained, with said plan to be approved, in writing, by the Town Attorney, Department and Highway Superintendent. An HOA is the preferred method with which to own and provide for the perpetual care and maintenance of the private road. Such HOA shall meet all requirements for an open space HOA set forth in § 179-39D(2)(a) through (f) below. The HOA must have the power to assess the subdivision lot owners from their share of the maintenance costs of the private road. The HOA shall contract directly with the Town of Clifton Park or a qualified road contractor to assure that the road will always be maintained and kept open to permit emergency vehicle access. In the event that a private road is not properly maintained, the Town of Clifton Park may assume or alternatively contract all maintenance responsibilities and charge the owner(s) for all reasonable costs thereof. Such costs, if unpaid for more than 60 days, shall become a lien on the property(s) and enforceable in the same manner as a property tax lien.
(7) 
The Town of Clifton Park may provide at regular intervals written certification from a licensed professional engineer that the physical integrity of the private road is adequate to meet its present needs and the needs which can reasonably be anticipated in the future.
(8) 
The lots in the private road subdivision shall be restricted by conservation easement so that they may never be subdivided beyond the lesser of eight lots and two times the zoning density at the time of subdivision approval, regardless of whether the private road remains a private road.
(9) 
The subdivision map shall show the street clearly labeled "private street" and road signage shall be so designated.
(10) 
Design standards. The following are minimum standards for construction of private roads:
(a) 
All construction shall be in accordance with these regulations and shall be under the immediate inspection, supervision and approval of the Highway Superintendent upon recommendation of the Town Engineer.
(b) 
The accessway for a private road shall be not less than 50 feet in width with a wearing surface not less than 20 feet in width.
(c) 
Whenever possible and as far as practicable, streets shall follow natural contours.
(d) 
Minimum curve radius shall be 100 feet and minimum tangent distance between reverse curves shall be 50 feet.
(e) 
Grade shall not exceed 12% nor be less than 1%. Grade shall not be greater than 3% within 50 feet of an intersection.
(f) 
The subgrade, foundation and wearing course shall be constructed so as to support a sixty-thousand-pound emergency vehicle (maximum) as well as meet the requirements of the Town Highway Superintendent.
(g) 
It is the intent of the Town of Clifton Park to encourage the modification of standard road requirements of Article X of these regulations as these pertain to carriageway width, drainage treatment, curbing, horizontal curb radii, tangents between reverse curves, and maximum street grades, except at intersections. However, there shall be no reduction of the ability of emergency services to provide service to the area from that which would be provided by a standard subdivision.
[Added 4-6-1998 by L.L. No. 2-1998]
Open space set aside in a cluster subdivision or a conservation density subdivision shall be permanently preserved as required by this section.
A. 
Open space uses. Open space shall be preserved and maintained for one or more of the following uses which shall be noted on the plat for each open space subdivision.
(1) 
On parcels subject to agricultural overlay district regulations, as may be adopted, open space shall be preserved principally for agriculture. Secondary open space uses include but are not limited to recreation and conservation of water, plant or wild life. Land preserved for agricultural purposes but not in active production shall be mowed or plowed at least once annually.
(2) 
On all other parcels, open space uses shall be appropriate to the site, including but not limited to passive and active recreation (including trail use), forestry and agriculture. When the principal purpose of preserving the open space or a part thereof is the protection/buffering of natural resources such as freshwater wetlands, aquifers, steep slopes, mature forests, wildlife habitats or stream corridors, open space uses shall be limited to those which are no more intensive than passive recreation for that approximate portion of open space which warrants protection/buffering.
B. 
Notations on plat. Open space created by the use of this article must be clearly labeled on the final plat as to its use, ownership, management, method of preservation and the rights, if any, of the owners of the subdivision to such land and the general public. The plat shall clearly show that the open-space land is permanently reserved for open space purposes and shall not be platted for building lots and shall indicate the liber and page of any conservation easements or deed restrictions required to be filed to implement such reservations.
C. 
Preservation in perpetuity. A perpetual conservation easement and/or other rights to property, including fee simple interest, which have the minimum effect of restricting development of the open space land and allowing use only for agriculture, forestry, active or passive recreation, watershed protection, wildlife habitat or other open space use and prohibiting residential, industrial or commercial use of such open space land, pursuant to § 247 of the General Municipal Law and/or §§ 49-0301 through 49-0311 of the Environmental Conservation Law, shall be granted to the town or to a qualified not-for-profit conservation organization as may be acceptable to the Planning Board. Such conservation easement or other rights shall be reviewed and approved by the Attorney's office and be required as a condition of plat approval hereunder. Said conservation easement shall not be amendable to permit commercial, industrial or residential development and shall be recorded in the Saratoga County Clerk's office prior to filing an approved open space subdivision final plat.
D. 
Ownership of open space land.
(1) 
Open space land may be owned in common by an HOA, dedicated to the town, county or state governments, transferred to a nonprofit organization acceptable to the Planning Board, held in private ownership or held in such other form of ownership as the Planning Board finds adequate to fulfill the purposes of this article. The appropriate form of ownership shall be based upon the purpose of the open space reservation as stated pursuant to Subsection A above.
(2) 
If the land is owned in common by an HOA, such HOA shall be established in accordance with the following and prior to the conveyance of the first lot in the subdivision.
(a) 
The HOA must comply with all applicable provisions of the General Business Law.
(b) 
Membership must be mandatory for each lot owner, who must be required by recorded covenants and restrictions to pay fees to the HOA for taxes, insurance and maintenance of common open space, private roads and other common facilities.
(c) 
The open space restrictions must be in perpetuity.
(d) 
The HOA must be responsible for liability insurance, local taxes and the maintenance of recreational and other facilities and private roads.
(e) 
Property owners must pay their pro rata share of the costs in Subsection D(2)(d) above, and the assessment levied by the HOA must be able to become a lien on the property.
(f) 
The HOA must be able to adjust the assessment to meet changed needs.
(g) 
The applicant shall make a conditional offer of dedication to the town, binding upon the HOA, for all open space to be conveyed to the HOA. Such offer may be accepted by the town, at the discretion of the Town Board, upon the failure of the property owners' association to take title to the open space from the applicant or other current owner, upon dissolution of the association at any future time or upon failure of the HOA to fulfill its maintenance obligations hereunder or to pay its real property taxes.
(h) 
Ownership shall be structured in such a manner that real property taxing authorities may satisfy property tax claims against the open space lands by proceeding against individual owners in the HOA and the dwelling units they each own.
(i) 
The Attorney's office shall find that the HOA documents presented satisfy conditions in Subsection D(2)(a) through (h) above and such other conditions as the Planning Board shall deem necessary.
E. 
Maintenance standards.
(1) 
Ongoing maintenance standards shall be established, enforceable by the town against an owner of open space land as a condition of subdivision approval, to assure that the open space land does not detract from the character of the neighborhood. Such maintenance standards may include the obligation to mow open fields to maintain their scenic character.
(2) 
If the Town Board finds that the open space set aside is being maintained in such a manner as to constitute a public nuisance, it may, upon 30 days' written notice to the owner, enter the premises for necessary maintenance, and the cost of such maintenance by the town shall be assessed ratably against the owner or, in the case of an HOA, the owners of properties within the development and shall, if unpaid, become a tax lien on said properties.
[Added 5-15-1995 by L.L. No. 7-1995]
A. 
Any proposed building lots with existing grades of 12% or greater (defined as one foot rise to eight feet horizontal) shall require the submission of a grading plan for approval by the Town Engineer during subdivision review. Site grading and stabilization are required to be completed in conjunction with road construction; and all grading shall be completed prior to road construction. All areas of the site which are disturbed and not paved shall be topsoiled and seeded or receive hydro-mulch or hydro-seed. Seeded areas shall be well established prior to road conveyance to the town.
B. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a period of 10 years has elapsed from the date of final subdivision approval, any further construction in a subdivision shall be governed by the Town Zoning Code Rules and Regulations, in effect at the time of application to the Building Department for a building permit, absent a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
C. 
Any applicant may apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance of the requirements of Subsection B as set forth herein.