Over a period of a decade and a half, an important project played out in the southern part of the Town of Pittsford that will serve as a model for open space preservation and planned residential development throughout New York State.
BME, representing highly-respected builder and developer Spall Homes, found in New York’s Incentive Zoning Law a means to help both the Town and the developer achieve different—but important—objectives for some 295 acres of land on five non-contiguous parcels. The result was a win-win for all concerned.
We Took Two Opposing Philosophies for Land Use and Found Common Ground
Peter G. Vars, P.E.
Approximately 15 years ago, the Town of Pittsford, which had experienced rapid housing development in the 1980s and 1990s, identified as a priority the preservation of their remaining green space and agricultural land. To this end, they began developing a plan called “Greenprint for the Future.”
At the same time, local developers recognized a continuing need for a diversity of housing in Pittsford, one of the prime real estate markets in the area.
New York State had just established an Incentive Zoning Law, and at BME we were very familiar with it. We recognized that it provided the basis and flexibility for a community to achieve open space preservation while protecting the rights of property owners and providing flexibility in housing. The latter provision would help a town meet the ever-changing demands of market demographics.
In short, we were able to utilize Incentive Zoning so that both the Town and Spall Homes achieved their goals. Each looked at the five separate, non-contiguous parcels under consideration and developed a comprehensive master plan. The Town identified what areas they wanted protected, and Spall outlined a ten-year plan for development. BME’s planning and engineering created the synergy—basically, finding a way the two plans could move forward together.
When all was approved, Pittsford preserved 160 acres of highly desirable green space and agricultural lands at no cost to the Town. And Spall Homes was able to embark on a steady, sustainable, ten-year plan without continually seeking new zoning approvals. The final housing project began in 2014.
BME is proud to have spearheaded the land planning and SEQRA efforts that led to a decade of managed growth in Pittsford accompanied by the achievement of its Greenprint goals.