Update of City Zoning Law

In 2004, the City of Amsterdam updated their Comprehensive Plan.  One of the major recommendations was to update the City’s Zoning Law.  The City selected the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and Planning in the fall of 2009 to update the zoning regulations.  Starting in January of 2010, the County Staff has worked with a Zoning Update Committee to create a draft that is now ready for public input and adoption by the City's Common Council.


Some of the major proposed changes to the zoning ordinance are: reducing the number of zones from 11 to 8, adding a greenway and gateway overlay zones and creating new Downtown Core and Employment District Zones. 

Anyone with questions can contact the County Planning Office at 853-8155.


Following the recommendations of the 2004 City Comprehensive Plan and input from the Zoning Update Committee and other input, these are the major changes proposed for the City’s Zoning Ordinance


Some major themes were to:

  • Make the zoning ordinance easier to understand and administer
  • Simplify the zoning categories
  • Add Greenway and Gateway Overlay zones
  • Create Simple Design Guidelines for the entire city.
  • Unify and add flexibility to the Downtown Core and reduce parking rates
  • Protect Neighborhoods from undesirable uses


Changes to Zoning Districts:

  • Removed Waterfront District (100 year floodplain) replaced with Greenway Overlay
  • Renamed R-1 Single Family Zone to LDN Low Density Neighborhood
  • Renamed R-2 Two Family Zone to MDN Medium Density Neighborhood
  • Removed R-3 Multiple Family Residential District
  • Removed SCR Senior Citizen Residence District
  • Removed Professional Business and Retail Business Zones
  • Added new Downtown Core Zone (DC)
  • Added Commercial Corridor (CC) Zone along major roads
  • Added a new Employment District (ED)Zone
  • Added a new Overlay Zone the Greenway Overlay Zone
  • Revised the Historic Resources Overlay Zone
  • Some changes in zoning boundaries made to better fit neighborhood character.  The largest area changed is in the Guy Park Ave area.


Specifics Changes to Zoning Ordinances:

1.  Low Density Neighborhood (LDN)

  • No major changes


2.  Medium Density Neighborhood (MDN)

  • Allow small professional, medical or dental uses (2,000 s.f) and small commercial uses (1,000 s.f) along arterial corridors.


3.  Medical Residential Neighborhood (MRN)

  • Conversion of existing residential structures to a medical use if no exterior change is made is a permitted use
  • Conversion of existing residential structures to a medical use when exterior changes are made is a special permitted use
  • Parking structures are added and is a special permitted use
  • Surface parking as a principle use is a special permitted use


4.  Downtown Core

  • Almost all uses are allowable except light industrial and warehousing
  • Parking requirements are reduced by 50%
  • All types of residential uses are allowable.  This is where new apartments can be built.
  • Mixtures of uses on the same property are allowed.
  • The building setback is reduced to zero foot with a 20-foot maximum setback.


5.  Employment District Zone (ED)

  • A flexible zone similar to the Downtown Core that also allows Light Industrial and Warehousing as Special Permitted Uses.


6. Commercial Corridor Zone (CC)

  • Primarily commercial areas along major roads.
  • Serves automotive based businesses.


7.  Light Industrial Zone (LI)

  • Allows for manufacturing, warehousing, and more intensive uses like major auto repair and body shops.


8.  Overlay Zones-

  • Greenway Overlay Zone- New

a.  The purpose of this overlay is to protect property from flood damage, protect environmentally sensitive area within the floodplain and to look for active and passive recreational opportunities.

b.  This overlay area includes all the 100 year floodplains of the Mohawk River and the major streams feeding into it.

c.  All development in or adjacent to the Greenway Overlay will be evaluated for environmental protection and potential recreation and trails areas during the site plan review process.


Citywide Design Guidelines- A new recommendation is to add simple design guidelines to the entire city. The draft design guidelines are available below:


Changes to Other Parts of Zoning Ordinance:

  1. Home Offices are defined and allowed as a permitted use
  2. No storage of commercial vehicles over 20 feet in length
  3. Site Plan Review are required for single and two family development on vacant lots


Next Steps:

The draft Update of the Zoning Ordinance now will be reviewed and considerd by the Common Council for Adoption.  T