Oct 13, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The Manlius Town Board will revisit its proposed amendments to local zoning law following a 40-minute long public hearing in which about 10 residents spoke. The amendments would clarify allowable uses in its residential multiple-use district, which includes properties along East Genesee Street between the Fayetteville Towne Center and the town line approaching Lyndon Corners.
Edward Wilson, of Manlius, said it was his denied application to host a tailoring business in his 7197 E. Genesee St. property that led to the town board’s review of the local law. Wilson took issue with the town board’s proposal to limit property owners to hosting two businesses under one roof.
“That not more than two permitted uses can be allowed to occupy one structure and that the minimum area of space available to each use shall be 1,000 square feet is an absolute killer for building owners wishing to rent space,” Wilson said. “As we have pointed out to the board on several occasions there are many allowed businesses that either do not need or cannot afford 1,000 square feet.”
The current square footage requirement is a maximum of 500 square feet per business.
“What pressures were brought to bear to create this new hurdle for building owners?” Wilson said.
Ken Wagner, of Glen Eagle Drive, said he “didn’t have a dog in this fight,” before questioning the square footage requirement.
“If it’s the aesthetics, the look as you drive down the road [that you’re concerned with], why 1,000 square feet?” he said.
In a letter to Supervisor Ed Theobald date June 14, Wilson wrote that from 2004 to 2008, he and his wife operated the Syracuse Homes real estate company at 7197 E. Genesee St. He said the depressed state of the real estate market has led to the “almost complete demise of our business.” Wilson described his situation as a business owner at tonight’s meeting, saying he and his wife, Susan, are essentially retired from the real estate business and would like to rent a 500 square-feet space for an apartment.
“If approved by the planning board, this will allow us to generate rental income which will barely cover the cost of operating and maintaining the building and the grounds,” he said “We have an additional approximately 800 square feet of high quality office space on the first floor which we will not be able to rent if the revised ordinances are approved. This will cause us a real hardship.”
Wilson said the four businesses at his property have not led to any decline in the building’s appearance.
“At the other end of East Genesee Street, number 7030, stands the White House [in DeWitt], which offers offices and suites from 100 to 1,500 square feet,” he said. “Does anyone seriously suggest that this flexibility diminishes the attractiveness of the building or adversely impacts the area?”
The RM district was created in the early 1990s with the intent to preserve the street’s residential look while allowing limited commercial activity. The law at first allowed one business per building in the residential area, but has since been interpreted to allow more than one supporting businesses under the same roof.
The board’s proposed amendments would leave out any requirement that businesses in one location be supporting or similar. “Whether the two businesses are connected or not connected has, I think, less impact on the other restrictions like parking and square footage,” said Deputy Supervisor John Loeffler during the Aug. 24 board meeting.
The amendments would also clarify what kind of businesses are allowed to operate in the district to include offices for various types of professionals and 10 types of businesses, among them: offices of religious and educational institutions; offices of physicians, surgeons and dentists; and funeral homes, day-care centers, art studios and apartments for residential use.
Mary Coleman, a village of Fayetteville trustee, urged the board to enforce limits on business development in the R-M district.
“Because there are some very large buildings … How many businesses could they jam into these buildings?” she said, adding that the East Genesee Street corridor does not look residential, due in part to the area’s signage.
“I want to know what neighborhood has signage like on that strip? It’s totally mind boggling,” she said. “They’re almost billboards now, and they get bigger and bigger.”
“Is there another strip like that in the town with those old historic buildings?” she continued. “That’s it. So I suggest you try to save it.”
Town Supervisor Ed Theobald said he was less concerned with limiting square footage for businesses than “the size of the building and the number of businesses in a building, and what is out of hand and what isn’t.”
“I do want to make this a business friendly atmosphere without losing the look of the residential nature of the location,” he said, adding: “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say the signs are a little out of hand for that residential look.”
Tom Schepp, owner of Eaton-Tubbs-Schepp Funeral Homes on East Genesee Street in the R-M district, said the town board was trying to “codify something they can’t codify.”
“They want commercial activity, but they’re trying to limit it,” he told the Bulletin after the meeting. “Well, they have a [planning] board that should be doing that.”
He explained that in any commercial area, business owners are required to go through a site plan review.
“So what [the town board] should do is put the limitations on how the structure appears, and then let the [other] boards decide [the rest],” he said. “It’s only common sense.”
Theobald said any action on the proposed amendments to zoning law would be tabled until at least the next board meeting to allow the town board to further discuss the law with David Tessier, director of planning and development, who is currently out of town.
“There’s no way, especially after all the input we’ve had,” he said.