The Ulster Town Board on Thursday approved a new  zoning designation for TechCity, allowing the former IBM-Kingston complex to expedite changes on its 138.4-acre east campus.

The board, by a unanimous vote, granted the request for a Redevelopment Overlay District to replace an Office Manufacturing District zone for the property.

Town Supervisor James Quigley said the change was needed to help TechCity secure new businesses for the site.

“For the most part, as long as they stay within the major concept set forth in the environmental impact statement, they can go comfortably and confidently to either a new tenant or a prospective buyer … to construct (buildings) within the envelope that we’ve defined and be reasonably comfortable they’re going to get efficient and fast town approvals,” Quigley said.

Under the proposed redevelopment plan, about  290,000 square feet of obsolete office space would be demolished;  two buildings comprising 558,000 square feet would be reconfigured for interior parking facilities; 1.3 million square feet of existing office space would continue in use, and new construction would add about 645,000 square feet.

During a press conference last August announcing a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order to clean up groundwater contamination at the site, TechCity Chairman Alan Ginsberg was enthusiastic about what the change in status would mean.

“We’re going to create an eco-village where people can live, work and play,” he said. “We’re going to fill this place up and create thousands of jobs and it can’t happen unless we work as a team. Government can’t function well unless we the people work with them and we can’t work well unless we can work with government.”

Quigley said TechCity will still be subject to site plan review for changes at the site, noting that any building larger than 2,500 square feet will require Town Board approval. He said the state consent order helped to establish a process for environmental reviews that would have otherwise required the town deal with the long-standing contamination issues.

“The (environmental impact statement) which we finished shortens up the submittal process to the Planning Board because you are not doing as detailed environmental reviews,” he said. “The EIS established a series of measured impacts like water and sewer, and as long as the proposed project is less than those impacts that have been studied and determined to be non-harmful, there is an efficient process for the environmental reviews.”

– Daily Freeman web site article, 1/6/12