Orange County Partnership - News

Montgomery IDA Releases Extensive Economic Development Study of Route 17K Corridor

Last month, the Montgomery Industrial Development Agency released a comprehensive 95-page economic development analysis of the Route 17K corridor.


The “Route 17K Economic Development Corridor Study” was conducted by Albany-based Delaware Engineering, D.P.C. in conjunction with the Town of Montgomery’s ongoing update of its Comprehensive Plan and evaluation of its water and sewer infrastructure.


The Montgomery IDA initiated the corridor study at its Kick-Off meeting on Aug. 17, 2020 and the report was released on Jan, 12, 2021. The release of the report marks the end of the first of a three-phased initiative aimed at engaging the public to enact policies and regulations that will strike a balance between economic development and preserving the quality of life of the town.


The report noted that “The Corridor Study has been prepared in consideration of multiple benefits including coordination with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan Update and positioning the IDA for grant opportunities to support next steps. While the Comprehensive Plan will outline the community’s vision for the entire Town, the Corridor Study objectively assesses the market potential of a limited area of the Town.”


The report continued, “By having both processes proceed simultaneously, ultimately, the Town Board will be well informed to make decisions governing land use in the town, and in particular, in the Corridor Study to meet the objectives of the community to preserve important land as open space or for residential and community-scale land uses while focusing economic investment that provides the tax revenue to support quality of life in appropriate locations.”


The Route 17K Corridor Economic Development study area is bound to the south by Interstate 84 and to the east by the Montgomery village line. The study area on average includes parcels no greater than two-thirds of a mile north of Route 17K. The District also includes all of the parcels adjacent to the full length of Sand Castle Road.


In the west, the study area encompasses all of the real property owned by Orange County, surrounding and including the Orange County Airport. It includes all properties to the east of the airport excluding existing residential neighborhoods. It also includes parcels to the south of the airport that are adjacent to the county-owned lands. The district does not include any parcels that are within the Village of Montgomery’s boundary.


During the Market Analysis portion of the study, two public information sessions as well as a stake holder meeting were conducted. The purpose of these meetings was to seek local opinions on regional opportunities, entrepreneurial activity and overall priorities in the community.


Among the Route 17K Economic Development Corridor Study’s chief recommendations were:


  • To prepare Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to establish environmental thresholds for future projects


  • Amend the Town’s Zoning Code to include visionary zoning for the Corridor.


  • Secure federal and state infrastructure funding.


  • Develop and implement a workforce development plan to attract talent and create a local and regional pipeline.


  • Develop site marketing materials and build relationships with site selection and commercial real estate professionals.


  • Identify companies in New York City and other regional locations in the Northeast that connect to the targeted sectors.


  • Identify the best development sites and work with site ownership to determine willingness to sell and define the role owners wish to hold in the development of their land.


In the market study of the best economic sectors to attract to the town, the report noted that the most promising clusters with significant value-added employment opportunities that can be attracted to the town are: Media and Entertainment; Professional, Financial and Business Services; Bio/Pharma and Healthcare product development; and modestly-scaled Research and Development (R&D) with related manufacturing. The corridor also features land base and utilities that could support high energy demand, which could in turn attract Data Processing and Storage along with Renewable and Sustainable Energy companies.


In addition, the study reports that the corridor has the potential to attract creative companies and artist spaces integrated with housing and consumer services in the creation of mixed-use sites. “In the Route 17K Corridor, there are opportunities for this type of development adjacent to the villages and/or with connectivity to outdoor recreation, hiking and biking to foster a lifestyle attractive to the creative economy,” the report adds.


The Orange County Airport and adjacent parcels provide the greatest opportunity in the logistics and agricultural sectors, according to the report.


“To bring this opportunity to fruition, an overall Master Plan for the airport and surrounding area is a logical next step to define the multi-modal potential of this area,” the report stated. “Research indicates that there may be opportunities to support an ethnic food processing hub which would take advantage of businesses currently located in the NYC boroughs that are seeking new locations. This concept would include agricultural uses, storage, and facilities for import and export, which may take advantage of local Foreign Trade Zone #47.”


The Orange County Partnership, which had first proposed the idea of undertaking a Corridor Study in Montgomery back in October 2019, was pleased with the report’s findings and recommendations and is hopeful that other municipalities in the county will undertake similar efforts to balance their quality of life with needed economic development opportunities to create much needed jobs, particularly in light of the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, said that the Partnership recommends the Town of Montgomery maintain and protect its rural/agricultural areas and create two economic development zones—one around the airport and one on 17K—to permit commercial development.


“We did recommend that warehousing is allowed around the airport as of right and in meeting performance standards on the 17K corridor. Importantly, we recommended they do away with their spot, strip and split zoning and the list of business types in favor of full parcel zoning and a simplified list of permitted land uses,” she continued. “Now it is up to the Town Board to ensure the recommendations are included in the Comprehensive Plan and then later adopted in some fashion in the zoning.”


The second phase of the IDA’s initiative involves a study of the town’s Environmental Review, Land Use and Permitting processes and will include public engagement and will detail existing environmental conditions, potential impacts and mitigation measures, outline steps for economic investment, the adoption of land use regulations and leverage documents to apply for grants and low-cost financing.


The third phase will entail the construction of the infrastructure required to support the envisioned economic investment through public-private partnerships.