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Village board braced by extensive opposition to Ledyard Avenue ‘Western Gateway’ rezoning proposal

Part of the village zoning map that shows where the proposed Western Gateway district would go.

Part of the village zoning map that shows where the proposed Western Gateway district would go.

— The mayor and village trustees received an earful of resident concern and opposition last week regarding a village proposal to rezone the Ledyard Avenue/Route 20 entrance corridor into the village — what the board is calling the “Western Gateway” — as a way to promote economic development as well as to maintain the appearance and historical integrity of the grand homes on the road.

Calling it an ill-conceived and under-developed plan that could turn the spacious residential corridor into a village-soul-killing commercial strip, neighbors questioned numerous aspects of the proposed law, including the allowed commercial uses in the new zoning district, the availability and aesthetics of parking, the danger to the existing historic homes, the benefits and potential spot zoning for the owner of The Brewster Inn and even the way in which the village notified the neighbors of the proposed zone change.

Fresh off the controversy of the proposed – and ultimately withdrawn — zone change application for 4 Chenango St. in order to move the restaurant Circa to that location, village officials were unprepared for the Ledyard Avenue neighborhood opposition that was expressed during a public hearing at the village board’s June 2 regular monthly meeting.

“I was shocked — this has been discussed publicly for months and I have been working on the concept for a year, and Monday night was literally the first criticism of any sort I have gotten on the topic,” said Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “The innuendo that there was a lack of transparency is unfair and unfounded. Every aspect of this has been noticed, put on our website, discussed at meetings, signs put out, notices sent, etc. Much of that effort is beyond what is required — if we were trying to ‘pull a fast one’ we wouldn’t go out of our way to solicit input. The committee worked very hard to assemble a draft law that we felt served the public interest. Nonetheless, we will go back to work and try to address the concerns that were raised.”

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