A proposed amendment to a zoning chapter in the village of Fayetteville could change the rules that outline who can operate a business out of some of the village’s oldest homes.
Residents Bruce and Mary Coleman, who live in Fayetteville’s historic district in a nearly 200-year-old house, are concerned that the proposed changes could alter the residential feel of the village.
“We are concerned that it’s going to change the character of the village,” said Bruce. “Our feeling is that most of the people who live here do so because it’s a residential community and this has the potential to create the feel of commercialism, like in the village of Manlius, for example. You’ll have employees and business owners coming and going all day and I don’t think many village residents are aware of what this [proposed amendment] is all about.”
The amendment of zoning chapter 187-7 would affect all homes within the R-3 district in the village of Fayetteville, which spans from the Elm Street neighborhood, across East Genesee Street, and into the neighborhoods to the west of the Fayetteville Free Library.
Currently, anyone who owns a home in the R-3 district may have up to three residential units within the property and must approach the planning board before renting anything out, said village trustee Mike Small. Today, homeowners and renters of those properties are permitted to run a home occupation business in the building.
The proposed amendment would alter the rules so that the owner and full-time legal resident of the property (as proven by participation in the STAR program) could rent up to 25 percent of the total floor area of a residence to a professional to operate a business with up to three employees on the property.
Small, who’s a part of a committee that’s been looking into the proposed changes for several months, said that there are safeguards in place to ensure that the properties within the R-3 district, many of which are more than 100 years old, are taken care of.
“The owner-occupant of the property and the proposed professional would have to go to the planning board annually in order to obtain the special permit,” he said. “This way, both parties have to be present and everybody’s clear and on board as to what the rules and requirements are.”
The proposed changes only would allow certain kinds of businesses to be run out of the R-3 district properties, including: accountants, actuaries, architects, engineers, financial/tax consultants, lawyers, social workers and a few more. Small said the committee limited the uses based on the number of potential employees and the number of clients that would be coming and going during the day.
Still, any homeowner interested in renting out commercial space would have to have appropriate parking for its employees and clients, which is what the Colemans are most concerned about.
“If houses in the district start renting to businesses, backyards could turn into blacktop parking areas,” Bruce said. “And if a homeowner has two cars, this business owner could have up to three employees, so that’s six cars already. Plus customers coming and going, who could be parking on the streets. And that’s just one property.”
Small argued that the changes could actually mean for less traffic all together in the R-3 district.
“If [R-3 district residents] can have three apartments and three tenants, most tenants have two cars per apartment – that’s up to six cars per property with no timetable as to when they come and go or where,” Small said. “If this were to pass, professionals would be on a 9 to 5 schedule, and chances are, [traffic] is not going to change very dramatically.”
In June, the village postponed a public hearing about the proposed amendment because the committee is still ironing out some of the details, Small said.
“We’re looking into a couple more things to include in terms of enforcement,” he said. “In case things don’t go the way they’re proposed to and people don’t follow the planning boards’ instructions.”
Small said the committee and village board are making decisions based on what is best for the village and its residents’ needs. The discussion about these proposed changes came after a resident of East Genesee Street approached the board wanting to rent out part of her home to a business owner instead of a family.
“When you see some of these great big homes and apartments and you can see some of the deterioration, could this be a way for people to be able to afford and maintain some of the larger properties?” he said. “Professional use generally calls for less wear-and-tear on a home than if you have a family living in an apartment.”
The public hearing for the proposed amendments of zoning chapter 187-7 will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 14 at the Fayetteville Village Hall.