Artful Zoning

By John C. Cappello

On September 8, 2016, I attended the Orange County Chamber of Commerce breakfast to hear a great presentation by my partner, Gary Schuster, and Adam Demchak from Polich/Tallix Foundry, discussing the economic and cultural benefits associated with the many creative arts associated businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and non-profits operating in the Hudson Valley. (A copy of Gary’s PowerPoint presentation can be found at

This got me to thinking what we can do to convince and assist our local municipalities to adopt revisions in their comprehensive plans and zoning to attract and make it easier for such arts related businesses to locate in our community.

I would begin by recommending that our municipalities acknowledge the importance of the arts both from an economic and cultural perspective in the development of our community.  A clear of statement of such in the comprehensive plan would be a good place to start.  In addition, a review of your zoning code to determine whether it includes measures such as:

  • Allow mixed use residential/work/gallery space for artists and artisans.
  • Allow art related activities for individual artists/artisans as a permitted home occupation.
  • Include a clear definition of non-nuisance industry to permit uses such as the Polich/Tallix Foundry, Scenic Arts, Production Resource Group, Costume Armour and other larger manufacturing/assembly space that produce art installations, scenery, costumes, etc. on a large scale basis.
  • Provide an array of housing opportunities that allow artists, musicians, and artisans to work and live in your community, as well as provide housing for the work force for the many larger scale artistic related businesses in our community.

These are just a few ideas to put out there.  It is important that all of us educate our local municipal governments of the importance and great economic impact associated with arts related businesses in our community.  It is important that we take whatever action we can to ensure these businesses continue to grow, prosper and multiply.  And finally, and most importantly, take the opportunity to support the many great galleries, businesses, music venues, and community theatre located in our area.  You will be pleasantly surprised as to the quality of entertainment right here in our own backyard.

(John C. Cappello is a Partner at Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, a full-service law firm based in Walden.)