Jul 07, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
After three public meetings and three proposal drafts, Ledyard Avenue residents remain opposed to the proposed new law that would change the zoning on their street — what is being called the “Western Gateway district” — to allow for more and varied building uses in the area. Continuing to question not only the reason, but also the motivations, behind the proposal, project opponents filled the village board meeting room last week to continue to press for the withdrawal of the law, or, at the very least, significant revisions, clarifications and changes to the proposed language.
“This proposal is flawed and inconsistent,” said Ledyard Avenue resident Margie Connor, adding that if the goal of the proposal is to preserve the scenic approach to the village, “This is not the way to approach it. This is Route 5 in Fayetteville,” with all its signs, businesses and commercialism. “The whole character of that approach to Fayetteville has changed,” she said.
Dr. Bill Loftus, also a Ledyard resident, agreed, saying that the “basic premise” of the proposed law is to change a residential neighborhood into a commercial zone. If this is approved, the grand houses on Ledyard Avenue will fall, one-by-one, and become business structures, until the street is nothing but a “commercial strip,” he said.
“Mr. Mayor, village trustees, leave Ledyard Ave. alone,” Loftus said.
The proposed law, publicly introduced in June, would establish a new “Western Gateway” zoning district and change the zoning of certain land parcels on both sides of Ledyard Avenue from Route 13/Lakeland Park to the western village boundary by the Trush property. The intention is to emphasize new and more potential uses for the large old homes on Ledyard Avenue as a way to prevent deterioration of those properties, to maximize land use by allowing more commercial development and to help beautify the village entranceway area overall, according to Mayor Kurt Wheeler.
The draft proposal, as presented at a June 2 village board meeting, stated that the proposed new zoning district would allow single-family dwellings and residential accessory structures, as well as 10 different commercial uses with the issuance of a special use permit by the village planning board. Those commercial uses include: bed and breakfast, motel/hotel with not more than 30 rooms, “including spas and other related facilities;” office uses; conservation areas; public outdoor recreation; business or non-profit organizations renting canoes, kayaks and other forms of non-motorized watercraft; tennis clubs; museums; educational facilities; retail sales that are clearly an accessory to otherwise permitted non-residential uses; and mixed use of “otherwise permitted residential and non-residential uses.” All uses not listed as permitted are expressly prohibited, according to the proposed law.
Ledyard Avenue residents opposed the law on June 2, citing numerous and specific faults they perceived in the draft.
After the June 2 meeting, Wheeler reconvened the Western Gateway committee responsible for the draft law to make revisions and incorporate public comments and concerns into a new proposal. That draft — the third in the process — was posted on the village website on June 27.
During the July 1 public hearing on the Western Gateway proposal, Village Attorney Jim Stokes explained the revisions made by the committee during the month of June. Those changes included increased strictures on outdoor lighting, parking, docks, noise, signage and the reuse of existing structures versus the demolition and/or construction of new structures within the proposed Western gateway district, Stokes said.
More specifically, the new draft law limits all allowed uses through special use permits to buildings that exist as of June 1, 2014, reduces the allowable number of rooms in an inn or similar facility from 30 to 15 and includes six new supplemental regulations. Those regulations limit any building expansions to single-family homes only; requires that any event tents in the district can be erected not more than two days prior to an event and must be removed within 24 hours after an event; limits new docks in Cazenovia Lake to one per premises and specifically prohibits commercial marinas; requires all on-site parking to be integrated into the topography and vegetation of the lot and requires that for large events that would violate the parking limitations, off-site parking must be provided with associated shuttle service provided as necessary or desired.
While some of the Ledyard Avenue residents appreciated the village’s willingness to revise the proposed law, they still did not support the law as written, and many people continued to find the law to be too broad and non-specific about what uses and actions would or would not be permitted in the new zoning district.
“I looked at your recent changes and I found so many holes in it that would provide for a developer to do way more than you anticipate,” said resident Jack Rooney.
Resident and town planning board member Anne Ferguson said this new overlay district — just like the overlay and exception districts the village has created or tried to create for Empire Brewing Company, Village Edge South, 4 Chenango St. and now Ledyard Avenue — all seem like ways for the village to avoiding abiding by its own Comprehensive Plan.
“This sounds like spot zoning,” Ferguson said.
Wheeler responded to that charge — as he did at the June 2 meeting — by saying that this is not spot zoning because, among other reasons, this process has been open to the public and to public comment, whereas spot zoning is a closed process done to benefit one single landowner to the detriment of the entire community.
“In my opinion this is not even close to spot zoning,” Stokes said.
“We have no intention other than to do what’s best for the community,” Wheeler said.
Ledyard Avenue resident Max Gale said that while he believes the village board and the Western Gateway committee have good intentions for this project, “We’ve had problems before … even on Ledyard Avenue people have not played by the rules. We need to be extra careful about ambiguity [in the language of the law].”
From an environmental standpoint, both Bob Greiner, president of the Cazenovia Lake Association, and Sarah Webster, president of the Foundation to Preserve Cazenovia Lake, said the village needs to adamant that the proposed law does not inadvertently damage the lake through issues such as contamination through stormwater runoff.
Carlos Gavilondo, president of the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation and a member of the Western Gateway committee, said the CPF supports the “purpose and intent” of the proposed law, however, the current draft retains numerous issues such as parking, viewshed protection, noise, privacy and general activity that may adversely affect the lake and the community, and must be addressed before his organization can support it. He said the CPF Land Use Committee recently approved a resolution opposing the current draft of the law, which the CPF board was scheduled to consider this week.
The July 2 public hearing ultimately lasted for two hours, with opponents calling for more specificity in the proposed law, tighter restrictions, better plans for enforcement of the law and a better explanation of why the proposed law is even necessary.
The board unanimously voted to continue the public hearing to its July 7 regular monthly meeting, which occurred after press time. A full report of that meeting will be posted on the Cazenovia Republican website at cazneoviarepublican.com.
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.