The Clay Town Board narrowly voted down a zone change along Buckley Road that would have allowed Farone and Son to build a funeral home.
The applicant had requested a zone change from R-10 One Family Residential District to NC-1 Neighborhood Commercial District on property located at 7353 Buckley Road. The property is owned by Red Barn Country LLC.
The zone change was first discussed at the board’s April 2 meeting. On that meeting and again April 16, it drew the ire of nearby residents, who expressed concerns about the potential for increased traffic on Buckley Road. Denise Murray of Waxwood Circle was one of at least half a dozen people to express concerns during a public hearing at the April 16 meeting about traffic.
“I kind of find it hard to believe that this will have minimal traffic impact,” Murray said. “It keeps adding up, little by little. We’re still concerned. It’s going to increase the traffic flow on our streets. Even though DOT says it’s okay, I beg to differ. It’s a valid concern.”
Concerns about traffic also swayed many members of the board, which voted 4 to 3 to deny the zone change.
Supervisor Damian Ulatowski, who voted with the majority, said he agreed with those residents that increased traffic volume would present a problem in the area.
“I voted in consideration of what county planning said,” Ulatowski said. “They said although there were no significant impediments to doing it, traffic was an issue. I looked at our planning board’s comments, and almost every one of them said that the site was inappropriately sized or there were significant traffic issues. I happen to believe the same thing. I have witnessed traffic backups as far as Briarledge, which is about 6/10 of a mile down from the intersection of Bear and Buckley.”
Ulatowski pointed out that most services hosted by the funeral home would take place at peak traffic hours between 4 and 7 p.m.
“That has the potential to back traffic up even more,” he said. “Making a left-hand turn out of there would be almost impossible. I think the funeral home would exacerbate the traffic situation that already exists.”
But Councilor Joseph Bick, who voted in favor of the zone change, said the proposal offered the least intensive use of the site the town board had seen.
“That’s the third proposal we’ve seen for that piece of property, and I really thought that was the least intense use we were going to get there,” Bick said. “It’s clear that the neighbors really don’t want anything other than the farm field there.”
Ulatowski said the first proposal presented on the site was actually the best he’d seen, but the applicant pulled it before the town board could vote on it.
“The very first proposal that came before us was for commercial, and I would have been very much in favor of that proposal,” Ulatowski said. “Any traffic generated from that would be daytime activity, after the morning rush hour and probably close to or before the evening rush hour. The site’s limited, so it would be a very small commercial enterprise, if it were, and I was surprised that the application was pulled. I see that as being a very viable use of that property.”
In other business:
Town of Clay parks and Recreation Director Wayne Morris was recognized at the board meeting for both a local and a state honor he recently received.
Morris, who has worked for the parks department for 39 years, received the New York State Recreation and Park Society Outstanding Service Award, along with the Central New York Recreation and Park Society David M. Guokas Memorial Award. The honor was created in recognition of a past Clay Parks and Recreation commissioner.
“Wayne is a caring and considerate leader,” Ulatowski said. “He has done a tremendous job.”
Morris was grateful for the recognition, but he insisted he was just doing his job.
“When I was thinking what job I wanted to do, I thought, ‘What better job can I do than to make people happy?’” he said. “When I was thinking what I wanted to do, that’s what I came up with.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club’s Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.