May 21, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Cazenovia community members eager to know whether the village board of trustees will or will not approve a zone change for the proposed brewery on Route 13 must wait another two weeks for the decision.
After a two-hour special meeting Monday, May 20, called specifically to consider the zone change application in the wake of a positive recommendation from the village planning board last week, the trustees chose to follow the planning board’s lead and hold off its vote until the village attorney draws up a specific resolution on which the board can take action. The resolution will be based on the board’s May 20 discussions, and will most likely be presented and voted on at the board’s next regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 3.
“This has been a very lengthy and rigorous process, and trying to do it all in one sitting tonight is probably too much, just as the planning board discovered last week,” said Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “If we identify anything to fix tonight we will certainly do that. Our goal is to provide enough direction for [Village Attorney Jim Stokes] tonight so he can write up a resolution that we can take action on at a subsequent meeting.”
The issue of the zone change application for the brewery’s land has been before both village boards since February.
Empire Brewing Company’s 22-acre lot on Route 13 was annexed into the village in late January as an R30 residential zone. The company petitioned the village in February for a zone change to a light industrial/agricultural/retail business/restaurant use. Without the zone change, the brewery cannot be built.
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. After months of information gathering and public hearings, the planning board issued a positive – although non-binding – recommendation with specific conditions to the village board on Friday, May 17.
The planning board’s conditions, in general, 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 all noise and odor limitations be consistent with the village code and that access to Cazenovia Preservation Trails from the brewery property be had only through the Lorenzo property.
The village board’s May 20 special meeting consisted not only of a review and discussion of the planning board’s recommendation, but also included a full environmental impact assessment (required by state law) by going through Empire’s completed Environmental Assessment Form and by the trustees completing their own EAF form based on their determinations.
The EAF asks for specific development information and whether certain aspects of a proposed development project do or do not have an environmental impact on the site and the community. If there is an impact, the form requires the impact to be described as small to moderate, potentially large or if the impact can be mitigated by a change in the project plans.
The potential impacts listed on the EAF include effect on land, water bodies, groundwater, plant and animal life, air quality, visual aesthetics, archaeological, transportation systems, public health and safety, growth and character of a community and whether or not the project will create or is likely to create significant public controversy.
In filling out the EAF, the trustees based their answers on the complete project file, which included multiple specific site studies completed by professional organizations, as well as numerous amounts of public input.
Of the 20 potential environmental impacts listed on the EAF, the village board answered yes to 10 and no to 10. All of its “yes” answers – which were impacts on land, groundwater quality or quantity, drainage flow or groundwater runoff, air quality, agricultural land resources, visual aesthetics, existing transportation systems, noise and odor, growth and character of the community and potential public controversy – the board characterized as “small to moderate.”
In its discussions on the planning board’s recommendation and specific conditions for approval, the trustees asked a number of clarifying questions of village attorney Stokes – who is also the planning board attorney – but offered no vocal agreements or disagreements on the planning board’s conclusions.
After two hours of discussion, the trustees unanimously agreed to have Stokes prepare a resolution on the zone change application “decidedly similar” to the planning board’s resolution and vote on it at the board’s June 3 regular meeting.
“Their logic is sound as they’ve laid it out,” Wheeler said of the planning board’s recommendation, calling it “fair and equitable.” He said the trustees can now take the two weeks until their next meeting to consider the proposal and adjust any aspects of it they see fit.
“I second that,” said Trustee Jim Joseph.
Trustee David Porter agreed, and said, “In my experience, this is probably as thorough a review process as I’ve ever been a part of.”
Trustee Peggy Van Arnam agreed with that sentiment, and also commended the process. “I think the end product [of the brewery] will be far better than it would have been otherwise,” she said.
If the trustees vote to approve the zone change request, the brewery project will continue its course through the site development planning stage, which has been going on concurrently with the zone change application.
All project information regarding the proposed brewery, including the EAF completed by the village board, is available for public inspection in the planning board files at the village office.
Jason Emerson is 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.