Planning board recommends zone change approval for brewery

— 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.

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