Officials pivot on restaurant zoning amendment

Hudson’s zoning map shows both the R2 and R4 districts. Contributed photo

HUDSON — After considering a zoning amendment that would have allowed for eating and drinking establishments in former residential buildings, the Hudson Common Council has instead turned to a law already on the books.

The Common Council’s Legal Committee determined Wednesday that a 2018 Hudson law that applies to the R2 zone east of Oakdale Park has language that could be applied to R4 west of Third Street. But this iteration would only allow for buildings used for commercial purposes to petition the planning board to use a space for “eating and drinking places,” according to city code.

This does not apply to buildings that are residential. Common Council President Thomas DePietro said the city doesn’t want to lose homes or units.

The original law, introduced to the council Aug. 9, would have added an amendment to the R4 zoning law, which governs the “three-story multiple residence district” west of Third Street, by allowing “eating and drinking establishments” to apply for conditional-use permits in the area. The city code currently prohibits such businesses in the district, which according to the law, limits restaurants and bars to the Warren Street commercial center.

Although the law was introduced to the council, it would have required an environmental assessment report, approval by the planning board and the county planning agency, a public hearing before the council, and approval and a public hearing by the mayor before it comes to a final vote before the council, Hudson city attorney Jeff Baker said.

Currently, the zone only offers limited exceptions for certain commercial operations like museums, Baker said. The amendment did not require businesses to operate in a location that was previously a commercial establishment, meaning a house could be converted into a restaurant or other dining establishment if granted a conditional-use permit.

Baker said Wednesday that use of the already codified language would not affect other zones, as the law introduced in August posed a waterfall effect on lower zones.

“We can take that language and probably make some changes to it ... and have it apply in the R4 also,” Baker said.

First Ward Alderwoman Jane Trombley said in August having establishments in a residential zone would be a “degradation” of the neighborhoods and that having a restaurant venture is expensive even off Warren Street.

But the plan to move forward with pre-existing language was satisfactory as it would not allow existing residences to be converted, she said.

DePietro said there aren’t many commercial buildings in the area now aside from corner stores.

The Common Council is scheduled to hold its formal meeting Sept. 21.

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