Jan 17, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Economic Health and Heritage Study Committee presented its official report of findings and recommendations concerning the planning and zoning for the Village Edge South zone to the Cazenovia Village Board at a Jan. 7 public hearing.
The result: The committee believes that major potential benefits for the community exist both aesthetically and economically in the development of VES, and it recommends that moving forward to amend the current planning and zoning regulations in place at VES are in the best interests of the public, said committee member and Mayor Kurt Wheeler.
After nine months of work, the committee “has reached consensus on a number of issues and feels that the next logical step will be to begin drawing upon outside expertise and professional assistance to develop the detailed language and procedures that will ultimately be needed,” according to the report that was publicly released Jan. 7. “Before shifting to this phase, the committee feels it is important for the Cazenovia Village Board of Trustees to acknowledge its work to date and authorize the more formal process of developing specific recommendations for language which could be used to update the VES section of the Comprehensive Plan and ultimately the zoning and regulations applicable to VES.”
Seven of the eight members of the EHH Study Committee were present at the hearing, during which Wheeler gave a Powerpoint presentation listing and explaining the eight observations, findings and recommendations of the committee along with photos and illustrations of specifics aspects of the VES area.
“The bottom line is that the status quo [of VES] is not optimum,” Wheeler said during the presentation.
The committee’s report, in summary, concluded that:
—Changes to the zoning currently in place are “strongly recommended;”
—Current regulations do not encourage the visionary planning for the area which is desired;
—The building footprint cap of 3,500 square feet in the existing regulations is a “significant flaw” and should be changed to adopt a formula allowing larger building sizes with proportional increases in lot size and open space as a trade-off. A maximum footprint in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 square feet is suggested;
—An enhanced conservation analysis process should be put in place to help preserve and optimize the area’s numerous desirable natural features;
—VES should be viewed as two distinct zones versus one as it is currently, because the northern zone near Route 20 is more applicable to commercial development while the southern zone is more applicable to residential;
—“Form over function” should be a guiding principle to maximize economic development options while preserving character and village gateway aesthetics;
—Opportunities to plan the whole zone or significant portions thereof comprehensively should be pursued;
—Protection of the aquifer is a paramount concern for this zone.
“This is a four-step process and this is Step 2,” Wheeler said. The next step, after board approval of the committee recommendations would be to hire outside experts to assist the village in modifying the VES section of the Village Comprehensive Plan.
After the presentation, members of the EHH Committee and of the village board one-by-one offered comments that were unanimously in support of the committee’s conclusions and recommendations.
“After nine months [of work] I have definitely concluded that to do nothing is a bad option,” said committee member Bill Zupan.
Committee member Ted Bartlett said the nine months’ of meetings were “very productive and sometimes loud,” and he urged the village board to allow the next step in the process to take place. “I would like to see us go to the next step. In nine months we have accomplished a lot,” he said. “I’m interested in getting experts in to tell us how to do this.”
Village Trustee Peggy Van Arnam supported the committee’s findings, but cautioned the rest of the board that, in regards to the recommendation that “form over function” should be a guiding principle to maximize economic development at VES, “We would be wise to give thought to function.”
“What do we want here?” Van Arnam asked. “I hope some attention is given to what we need here.”
Four residents spoke during the public hearing, mostly in support of the committee’s recommendations, but also asking questions. And one resident voiced his concerns.
“I would caution the board to be careful what you wish for because you might just get it,” said Rob Connor, a former member of the Village Comprehensive Plan Committee. “This could be one step closer to making us like Enders Road and I don’t think that’s what people want. Once the door is open it will be hard to deny developers what they want [to build] that’s not what we want. You’re opening a door to what was a concern to the village just four or five years ago.”
The public hearing was closed after about 35 minutes of discussion.
During its regular meeting, which began after the public hearing, the village board discussed what follow-up actions it should take, if any, on the issue. They voted unanimously to appoint a special eight-person board of outside experts to review and update the Village Comprehensive Plan based on the suggestions and recommendations of the EHH Committee.
The full EHH Committee report, as well as other VES-related plans and maps, can be viewed on the village website at villageofcazenovia.com under the “Mayor and Village Board” tab.
Jason Emerson is the incoming editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.