DeWitt: Code confusion reigns

Last week after a Dec. 10 public hearing on zoning map changes, the DeWitt Town Board tabled the decision to change key districts in the town including the largest and most debated district from Industrial to High Tech. The result ultimately stemmed from resident concerns and misunderstandings about codes, said Dick Robb, commissioner of development and operations.

The three main areas up for map changes were the I-481 corridor north of the railroad tracks and east to the town line with Manlius; a small area along Thompson Road near James Street slated for business district zoning; and three old quarries in Jamesville, two of which are owned by Hansen Aggregates and one by Alpha Jamesville, where Empire Synfuel has a pending application for a coal gasification plant.

At this point, nothing is on the board, Robb said, because the proposed map changes were shelved.

"It's very much an open issue," he said.

Industrial versus High Tech

Changing a zone from an Industrial district to High Tech would stop heavy industrial plants from coming to town, like the proposed coal gasification plant that many Jamesville residents are against. And in addition to banning general-purpose manufacturing or production plants, a High Tech district also prohibits general purpose warehousing and transportation, Robb said. Special purpose warehousing, however, may be permissible depending on the product.

"[High Tech] is customized zoning," Robb said, in contrast to Industrial. "It's just not general purpose [where] you're allowed any sort of transportation, any sort of warehousing or any sort of manufacturing."

Robb said somehow the public got the impression that High Tech is more objectionable to a resident than heavy industry of an Industrial district.

"That just flies in the face of reality," he said.

But because of the concerns expressed by businesses and the real estate community, Robb said the Zoning Update Committee will study the map more as well as involve and educate those people and businesses affected along the way.

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