Nov 07, 2007 Kerry McAvoy Uncategorized
The town of DeWitt will be undergoing some changes. Changes to the town’s zoning code have been underway for several years. This week, the board will present its final draft for public inspection.
For the past 40 months, the DeWitt Planning Board has been hard at work on a new zoning code. A seven-member committee made up of councilors, planning board members; attorneys made up the draft. The group also had help from the consulting firm of Peter J. Smith & Co. of Buffalo. The project has been in the works since August 2004.
Dick Robb, commissioner of development and operations, said that the last revision to the code occurred in 1967. He said that many of the codes were out of date and obsolete.
One of the biggest issues of the zoning code is that of the coal gasification plant that was going to be built on Ogle Road. With the new zoning plan this area that was once zoned for industrial use will now be for high tech business. Robb said that the coal plant was not the catalysis for the rezoning project. He said that it was a coincidence that the coal plant project came about as they were working on rezoning.
To prevent the controversial plant from coming to DeWitt, the committee turned the area that was originally to be an industrial zone into one that is specifically for high tech industries. Another spent quarry in the area was also changed to a high tech zone. Robb said that this was not the only zone changed from the original revision draft.
Robb said that the owners are not going to be happy about this change, but that the town needs to think in the long term to ensure the health of residents and local businesses. The owners, he said “have gone on record saying that they oppose changes to the zoning.”
Robb said that the high tech zones wouldn’t just be Silicon Valley companies going into these areas. He stressed that the new high tech zones will also allow for businesses like retail, restaurants, cafes, hotels and motels.
An area on East Seneca Turnpike between Taylor and Gates Roads was going to change to a residential area, but it was instead left as a business zone.
Another change was to make an area off 481, bordering the Cicero line, into a high tech zone. In the first draft, the parcel of land was going to be an industrial zone.
One of the biggest changes is the so-called “good neighbor clause.” With this new provision, the town will not grant permits to any residence or business that is not up to codes. This means that if a homeowner or business is not up to code, property changes will not be allowed. Robb said that this is to ensure that the standards of the town are met, and the people comply with the law.
Area businesses may enjoy some new opportunities under the code changes. Local business owners will now have their choice of signage. With the old code, owners were only allowed to display wall signs. With the new plan owners may chose window and free standing ones as well. Local business owners who came to talk about changing the signs brought this matter to the attention of the group.
In all, Robb said that around 200 people came to talk about the changes to the code. Several public meetings were held that were well attended.
Robb said that if the plan is approved, it could take affect as early as December. The plan is available online at townofdewitt.com. The DeWitt Town Board will hold hearing on the new plan at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and at 7:40 p.m. on Nov. 22. Both hearing will be held at the DeWitt Town Hall on Butternut Drive.