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Hudson Valley

Moratorium placed on downtown Middletown development

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Albany/HV: Moratorium placed on downtown Middletown development
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A hold is placed on business development in downtown Middletown. YNN's Elaina Athans tells why some business leaders says it's actually a good thing.

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- "We can look at this as a way to tailor make the downtown," said Middletown BID Executive Director John Degnan.

Middletown is taking a few months to change its zoning regulations and put a freeze on downtown development. A moratorium is placed on the Business Improvement District, which basically encompasses about four or five blocks.

Officials want to zone the downtown area for mixed use. Many buildings have stores on the first floor and apartments on the second and third. The city says there needs to be a better plan for co-existing businesses owners and residents. During the moratorium, no building permits will be handed out. Site plans will not be approved.

"It's not designed keep businesses out. It's designed to control a little bit the activities of the business," said Degnan.

The business community has been pushing for these zoning changes since the 90s, saying that Middletown has seen significant economic growth.

"There's going to be a massive influx of government money coming in with the transportation hub, the Heritage trail coming in downtown. We own some large buildings in the downtown area that we're getting interest on for redevelopment, so we want to make sure we're doing it right," said Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano.

A consulting firm has been hired to help the city. One thing city officials will look into is possibly changing how late certain businesses can stay open.

The moratorium will last about six months until roughly March 31st. There would be some exceptions during that time period where business owners can modify already existing properties.

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