December 6, 2021

Draft plan for Varna includes zoning changes

Provided by Trinitas Ventures

This sketch shows a 610-bedroom townhouse project proposed for in the hamlet of Varna in the town of Dryden.

DRYDEN — The Dryden town planning board will consider Thursday a draft development plan for the hamlet of Varna that would decrease residential density among other changes.

Planning board member and Varna committee member Jim Skaley said the draft plan recommends definition and zoning changes for the hamlet, while also decreasing the density of dwelling units. The suggested definition and zoning changes “are not dramatic,” he said.

However, the proposed changes to dwelling unit density could have a profound effect if adopted. Planning board and Varna committee member David Weinstein has estimated that current zoning in the hamlet would allow for building more than 2,600 bedrooms, if all developable parcels were built out to the maximum allowed density, according to committee minutes from an Aug. 1 meeting.

The 2012 Varna development plan, however, calls for a much lower number of new bedrooms — 454. The current draft plan aims for 1,200 new bedrooms, Skaley said. The density restrictions would affect future development, including the proposed 552- bedroom Trinitas project — which would see “a significant reduction” if the draft is adopted.

The goal of the Varna committee has been to adjust the dwelling unit density to reach a maximum number of bedrooms that is closer to the 2012 Varna plan number, said planning board and Varna committee member Martin Hatch.

The purpose, said Hatch, is “to create a community that coheres … and to decrease the fracturing of community that occurs if you create large- scale constructions which attract residents that aren’t thinking about the immediate environment, but are more pulled to where they work or they study.”

The Varna proposal will be considered as part of the larger effort to update the town’s comprehensive plan. The planning commission began that work Sept. 11 with the help of consultants from Environmental Design & Research, a Syracuse-based engineering company. The last town comprehensive plan was completed in 2005.

Varna had been considered in a separate 2012 development plan after the 2005 comprehensive plan left out significant changes to zoning in the hamlet, Skaley said.

In 2010, large proposed residential development projects energized hamlet residents to push for more restrictive zoning.

The new proposed zoning changes for Varna come against the backdrop of the first major movement on the proposed Trinitas development in months; the development company recently uploaded a substantial amount of material to add to its existing application materials with the town.

Town planner Ray Burger said at the town board business meeting last week that it would take him at least a week to review the large volume of documents that Trinitas had submitted.

The files can be viewed at the town’s website, dryden.ny.us/departments/planning-department/ permit-review-links/special- use-permits/

In addition, the planning board Thursday night will discuss progress on the new comprehensive plan as well town policy regarding short-term rental properties.

The board meets at 6 p.m. at town hall.