Frequently Asked Questions

What is the UDO Project? The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) project is an effort to update the existing zoning code, subdivision regulations and related development standards of the city to bring them in-line with the recommendations of the recently adopted 2015 Comprehensive Plan.

Why is the zoning being updated? Municipalities are required by law to enact and periodically update their zoning and land use codes to be in conformity with their most recently adopted Comprehensive Plan. In an effort to comply with this requirement, the City of Saratoga Springs applied for and was awarded grant money to update the zoning and develop a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

What is a Unified Development Ordinance? A Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) combines traditional zoning and subdivision regulations, along with other development standards for items such as design guidelines, stormwater management, sign requirements and street standards into one, easy-to-read reference document. A UDO is intended to streamline the review and approval process and clarify all requirements with clear illustrations for ease of understanding by the public, developers and city officials.

What are the goals of the project? The goals of this project are three-fold:

  1. To update the existing zoning and subdivision regulations to be in conformance with the newly-adopted Comprehensive Plan.
  2. To research and implement new initiatives which would improve the overall sustainability of the City with regards to energy consumption, stormwater management, solar power, walkability and other measures.
  3. To redesign and format the various development requirements into one, single unified document which is easy to read and understand, with improved efficiency and a more streamlined review and approval process.

What is the zoning diagnostic report? The zoning diagnostic report is a first analysis step to be taken in the project. It is a summary of the major issues identified by the public, city staff and consultant team which should be addressed in the future drafting of the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The diagnostic will act as a “checklist” of items which should be addressed or corrected when the UDO is created. The UDO, once drafted, will eventually replace the existing city zoning code, subdivision regulations and related development standards.

Does the zoning diagnostic report include suggested zoning language? No, the zoning diagnostic report identifies specific issues or problems which should be addressed, and then offers potential solutions to those items. It does not include or suggest specific code language. Specific code language will be developed later in the first drafts of the UDO.

How is this project being funded? This project is being funded by a Cleaner, Greener Communities grant provided by NYSERDA. As part of the grant program, the new ordinance will seek to incorporate sustainability measures which will help to improve the energy-efficiency, air and water quality of our city to improve the quality of life for local residents. Many of these sustainability improvements are items which were identified as City goals in the Comprehensive Plan.

What is the Project Timeline? The official public kickoff for this work will commence with a Public Informational Meeting in City Hall on October 22nd, at 6:30pm. The purpose of this meeting will be to introduce the project in more depth to the local public, review the major findings of the Comprehensive Plan and begin a discussion of anticipated zoning changes and sustainability initiatives which could be investigated. Additional information on the project schedule can also be found here.

What sustainability goals is the NYSERDA grant looking for? The NYSERDA Cleaner, Greener Communities grants aim to accelerate adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency as standard practice throughout the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve overall quality of life. Examples include:

  • Using renewable energy to become more energy independent
  • Control sprawl to reduce housing and transportation costs
  • Invest in public transit systems to serve more people and minimize pollution
  • Build stores, schools, and workplaces near neighborhoods to reduce vehicle miles traveled
  • Attract businesses to neighborhoods to create jobs, and keep dollars local
  • Make walking and bicycling easy to foster healthy lifestyles
  • Reuse developed land to improve economic potential
  • Adopt clean technologies to grow our 21st century economy
  • Conserve resources to strengthen the natural environment
  • Reduce greenhouse gases to improve and protect our environment

What type of sustainability initiatives might be considered for our code? This will be the subject of discussion as the project moves forward, however they will likely include measures or goals recommended in the recent 2015 Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan notes many guiding principles, noting specifically that: “The overriding philosophy that will guide future development of our ‘City in the Country’ will be sustainability.” Examples noted include: promotion of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal; helping to enable and promote alternate modes of transport including bicycle, pedestrian and public transit; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and providing a diversity of housing opportunities for all income levels.

How can I get involved, or submit comments and questions? There will be open public meetings over the course of the project to discuss the work in progress – check the Home page of this site for announcements or the schedule to find upcoming dates. Draft work products will be published here for easy access and review to ensure that everybody has a chance to review as part of an open community discussion. If you can’t make it to one of the public meetings, you can submit comments or questions via email and fax at any time.