Proposed Zone Change May Add Retail

Orange might gain some retail space in the not too distant future, and that has some residents concerned.

“Once you make the move, you’re going to have to live with it and you might not have intended for what the developers are going to do,” concerned resident George Finley told the Orange Town Planning and Zoning Commission at their January meeting.

Three properties off of Prindle Hill and Indian River Road, near Spring Brook Common and The Christmas Tree Shop, could be rezoned from Light Industrial 2 to Light Industrial 3. The main difference between the two is the inclusion of retail uses for businesses.

According to Economic Development Executive Director Paul Grimmer there are roughly six properties with the LI3 designation, all within that same area. A change to the zone would not alter anything other than the three properties in question.

However, there is a catch. None of the properties being considered for a zone change are larger than 4 acres. Existing regulations require retail space in a LI3 to sit on no less than 5 acres. Changing the zone designation would still require altering the actual regulations as well.

The Orange Town Planning and Zoning Commission voted to table the discussion for now while working out the details on what needs to change to make a new zoning designation viable.

Commission chairman Walter Clark, IV, supported the premise of the zoning change stating that it did not remove the the town’s capacity for attracting industrial businesses while at the same time adding more versatility to the sites.

The commission and Grimmer noted that currently there is an appropriate office building on one of the lots in question. They would like to see a doctor’s office or accounting firm set up shop but those sorts of professional services are considered retail by definition in the regulations.

Finley stated that he felt changing the zone would effectively remove industrial opportunities in town because the probability it is a retail establishment would move in first.

“We are prohibited by state statute from considering the user, only the use,” Clark said in relation to thoughts on who might take advantage of a zoning change.

The issue will return before the commission at a future meeting.