May 20, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The village planning board has recommended that Empire Brewing Company’s application for a zone change on its Route 13 property from residential to light industrial/agricultural use be approved with conditions by the village board of trustees. If the trustees accept the recommendation and vote for approval, the brewery project — after more than two years of work — will move forward rather than be stopped in its tracks.
The planning board’s positive recommendation came after more than four hours of discussion during two separate meetings last week, as the board members disagreed over, discussed and clarified multiple conditions for zone change approval they attached to their official recommendation.
“Our role tonight is to offer a non-binding recommendation to the village board,” said planning board Chair Rich Huftalen at the board’s second meeting of last week on May 16. “This is important because it sets a baseline from which the village board will begin its deliberations [on the zone change decision].”
The planning board previously was tasked by the board of trustees with submitting a recommendation based on their information and hearings as to whether or not the village board should approve the zone change request. Empire’s 22-acre lot on Route 13 is currently zoned residential, and the company petitioned the village for a zone change to a light industrial/agricultural/retail business/restaurant use.
After months of public hearings on Empire’s zone change application and reams of public comments and Empire submissions, the planning board officially closed its public hearing on the issue last Monday, May 13, after two final hours of public comment. The board agreed that night to give a positive recommendation, but delayed a final vote due to the lateness of the hour — they met for four hours, beginning at 7:30 p.m. — and board members’ desire to return to finalization of the conditions with fresh minds and an attorney-written draft with specific wording.
The board’s decision to include conditions was not only for the proposed Empire project, but also to have regulations in place for any subsequent land owners or developers of the property.
The general conditions the board agreed to on May 13 included mandating that a specific percentage of the 21-acre lot remain either undeveloped open land or agricultural use only; that a vegetative buffer in line with village laws be required; that any artificial lighting not exceed certain brightness levels; that any outdoor storage areas be screened from neighbors and that access to Cazenovia Preservation Trails from the brewery property be had only through the Lorenzo property.
During the planning board’s subsequent meeting on Thursday, May 16, board members worked to finalize the conditions of their recommendation based off a draft resolution written by board attorney Jim Stokes.
Unlike the May 13 meeting, which had a room filled with more than 60 attendees, only one member of the public attended the May 16 meeting. Also present were Empire owner David Katleski, his wife, his attorney and his project architect, and two attorneys for two of the Route 13 neighbors who oppose the project.
During the course of the 90-minute meeting, board members worked to — and sometimes disagreed on — how best to protect the rights of both the applicant (Empire Brewing) and the community, especially the neighbors. Board members found themselves walking a tight line between protecting community interests and overly limiting the rights of a landowner.
The major discussion at the meeting concerned how best to control the amount of development allowed on the property that would be fair to Empire, address neighbors’ concerns and preserve a certain amount of undeveloped, open space. The board considered specific plot setbacks (areas within which no structures can be built, which can be changed through variances) versus landowner covenants (permanent agreements preventing development), and the use of setbacks versus declaring a general percentage of the land that must be preserved as open space.
✓Permitted uses of the new zone district be limited to light industrial/agricultural/retail business/restaurant use to the extent the uses shall be associated with a farm brewery;
✓Permitted uses be subject to prior site plan review and architectural approval by the planning board;
✓No residential use, conference center, inn, bed and breakfast or hotel business be permitted, and that any open storage areas be consistent with existing village code regulations;
✓Total land development coverage not exceed 20 percent of the site, and setbacks for development be set at 500 feet in both the front and rear of the lot, and 150 feet on each lot side;
✓The maximum building height in the district be 50 feet;
✓Outdoor lighting, noise pollution and off-street parking and loading limitations all be in accordance with current village code regulations, except that outdoor lighting be limited to 0.1 footcandle at 50 feet inside the side and rear lot lines;
✓Existing vegetation be preserved to the extent recommended by the Cazenovia Area Conservation Commission and a 25-foot vegetative buffer strip be required along each side lot line;
✓The site development of the land be “substantially as described” in the site plan and building drawings dated April 29, 2013;
✓Any access to off-site walking trails from the site direct visitors toward the Lorenzo State Historic Site property.
The final recommendation with conditions was unanimously approved by the planning board and was forwarded to the village board of trustees on Friday, May 17. The trustees discussed the issue and were expected to vote on the zone change application at a special May 20 meeting, which occurred after press time.
The Cazenovia Republican will have a full report on May 20 meeting on its website and in next week’s issue.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.