Orange County Partnership - News

A Visionary Strategy for Future Generations

The Town of Montgomery has recently embarked on an ambitious, multi-faceted strategy geared at taking advantage of its strategic location that has sparked hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, but also to retain the storied character of the community that dates back to 1788.


In order to strike a balance between economic growth and the preservation of its charm that has attracted residents for more than 200 years, town leaders have initiated the drafting of a new Comprehensive Plan along with a comprehensive Route 17K Corridor Study that will focus on a corridor from Exit 6 off I-84 along Route 17 and into the Village of Montgomery. The Montgomery Industrial Development Agency voted 6-1 earlier this month to move forward on this critical Corridor Study, according to a report in the Middletown Times-Herald Record.


The Orange County Partnership first proposed the idea of undertaking a Corridor Study in Montgomery back in October 2019 and views this endeavor as a forward-looking initiative that is critical to the future of Montgomery.


“This corridor study is truly a visionary approach and will take a ‘deep dive’ at a specific area of the town that has seen significant developer interest and review specific properties for their potential for development and their impacts, including additional tax revenues,” said Maureen Halahan, president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Partnership. “This study will provide cold hard data for the town and the IDA to build upon in order to craft a coordinated and focused economic development plan that will benefit Montgomery for years to come.”


The Orange County Partnership recently issued a report identifying businesses along the Neelytown Road corridor.  The corridor contributed more than $7 million in taxes for Orange County and the Valley Central School District in 2019.


Conor Eckert, executive director of the Town of Montgomery Industrial Development Agency and director of economic development for the Town of Montgomery, explained in a memo to the IDA Board on July 8th the different goals of the Comprehensive Plan and the Route 17K Corridor Study.


“The proposed Route 17K Corridor Study and the Comprehensive Plan are separate and distinct processes and documents that serve a similar mission: preparing our town for the 21st century. The Corridor Study aligns with the Town of Montgomery Industrial Development Agency’s mission to diversify and enhance the economy within the town,” Eckert stated.


The Comprehensive Plan will create a broad overview of zoning, land use controls, services, infrastructure and ultimately what the community wants the Town of Montgomery to look like moving forward, he noted.


The Corridor Study, on the other hand, will serve as an objective analysis of development potential in a specific area of town based on market demands and trends. In essence, the Corridor Study “is a significant analytical dive into development potential through the examination of a handful of development-focused topics. The study will examine topics such as building activity based on real estate information, leads in progress, cost of building, cost of permitting and timeframe to development, the development catchment area…,” Eckert noted.


Through the examination of the data, consultant Delaware Engineering and the IDA will identify vacant and underutilized properties, as well as properties on the market and develop criteria for screening sites such as minimum site size for developable area, maximum distance from highway access, and zoning/land use. Delaware Engineering will develop a report that will focus on the specific sites and will address such issues as potential site analysis, identification of suitable project sectors, maximum build-out scenarios, resulting project impacts (private sector investment, jobs, etc.), the commercial real estate market, the competitiveness of Orange County, natural and infrastructural constraints, and marketing strategies and approaches for populating the sites.


“The scope and depth of analysis associated with the Corridor Study are different from that of the Comprehensive Plan,” Eckert said. “Specifically, the Comprehensive Plan is broad and larger in scope, touching on a multitude of topics ranging from zoning to open space preservation throughout the jurisdiction. While the Comprehensive Plan and Corridor Study may touch upon similar items such as build-out scenarios, the Corridor Study will be a significantly deeper dive into specific sites to determine development viability and will deliver objective recommendations for best-fit development types based on market trends, site information and other opportunities and constraints.”


Eckert added in the memo that the IDA intends to seek citizen input on the market study component of the Corridor Study and could possibly hold small “kitchen table” meetings, larger meetings (as permitted by COVID-19 guidelines), or conduct surveys.