Let's go retro: Village of Camillus considers writing turn-of-century business district into law

On Sept. 9 the Camillus Village Board will vote on a local law that would create an overlay district with emphasis on what once was. The board held a public hearing on Aug. 12 to discuss the law.

"This local law really covers a lot of different areas," said Village Attorney Steven Primo. "It started off as a means of addressing the village center and to create an overlay district for the restoration of the character of the village roughly as it existed around the turn of the [20th] century."

The law reads: "The intent of these standards is to encourage the development of structures and uses that are compatible with their surroundings; that provide attractive facades and historically consistent front and attractive rear entrances; that will encourage redevelopment and use of the Village Center as the center of local commerce and community activity; and that will minimize or avoid adverse impacts."

The law aims to foster preservation, restoration and recreation of building facades consistent with the village of Camillus circa 1900 -- in other words, restorations similar to that of 55 Main St. (pictured above) would be the written norm.

Out with the 'old law,' in with the new

Through the process of drafting codes for the overlay district, Primo found the interplay between the village and planning boards and zoning board of appeals to be out of date.

"That had to be modified because it's sort of 'old law,'" Primo said. "Because it was still in the books it was still going on, but it really should be changed."

The zoning board of appeals (ZBA) does not currently have the power to grant variances (exceptions to village ordinance). It can only make recommendations to the village board. Under the new law, the ZBA would have complete jurisdiction over variances.

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