Planning board opposes zone change for new Circa location

Neighbor opposition spikes another village business proposal

— In January, and again before the board in February, Burrell and Hart said they had spoken with the Chenango Street neighbors and had received much positive feedback about the proposal. Hart said she was not going to change her business model at all — there would be no additional lights, live music or other obtrusive elements — she was just switching locations.

The neighbors, however, came to the February board meeting, and to the February planning board meeting, and voiced numerous concerns about the potential neighborhood impact of the restaurants lights, noise, parking and traffic issues and even garbage. Neighbor Helen Stacy retained local attorney Paul Curtin to represent her and make her concerns especially known.

The neighbors have all submitted letters to the planning board opposing the requested zone change. Curtin submitted a letter on March 10 opposing the requested zone change as “counter to the stated goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan” and an inappropriate land use in an R-10 district.

“Not unlike the Farnham Street bakery, neither the mayor nor the village attorney anticipated the neighbor opposition as was received,” said planning board Chair Rich Huftalen.

The Farnham Street bakery was another zone change request by a local business that ultimately was quashed by vocal neighborhood opposition last year. Local resident Susan Light purchased the house at 8 Farnham St. with the idea to refurbish the dilapidated structure and put a commercial-grade kitchen on the first floor and use the two second-floor rooms as office space. Neighbors protested, decrying the potential drop in property values; loss of quality of life from potential noise, odors, lighting and increased traffic; safety concerns for neighborhood children due to increased street traffic; and setting a negative precedent in allowing a commercial business on a residential street.

All of these same issues were brought to the planning board about the Circa plan as well. Huftalen argued in favor of recommending allowance of the zone change, stating that all these issues could be addressed in site plan review, as they were in last year’s tumultuous Empire Farmstead Brewery proposal.

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