Aug 11, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The residents of Ledyard Avenue have consulted a local zoning attorney to help them fight the village’s proposed law to create a new Western Gateway zoning district on their street; and that attorney told the village board last week that the Western Gateway proposal is nothing more than “spot zoning” that benefits a few to the detriment of the village and, if the law is passed, it will be “vulnerable” to a legal challenge.
The legal threat was not the only new issue raised at last week’s Aug. 4 public hearing on the Western Gateway proposal, however. The latest revised version of the proposed law — Draft 4 — was released by the village July 30 and discussed at the meeting; Brewster Inn owner Richard Hubbard said he has changed his business expansion intentions and will not have any outdoor weddings or events if he ultimately purchases his two neighboring houses; and Western Gateway opponents appeared to have coordinated their arguments, the majority of which centered on the amount of impervious surfaces, such as paved lots, allowed under the proposed law causing massive runoff and doing irreparable damage to Cazenovia Lake.
Also new to the debate on the proposed law last week were multiple residents speaking out in support of the legislation.
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 the proposed legislation.
After three public hearings and three works sessions on the proposed law, Draft 3 of the legislation, which was discussed at the July 1 public hearing, had been revised to include 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.
Draft 4, published on the village website on July 30, included further revisions such as:
—The statement that “strict scrutiny” be applied to any application for possible building demolition in the Western Gateway district.
—Stricter requirements on maintaining and replacing existing vegetation in the district.
—Requirements that all building modifications must maintain the historic character of the building and the district, and no non-historic building materials will be allowed to be used.
—The mandate that pervious or semi-pervious surfaces must be utilized to the maximum extent possible in the district.
—Further strictures on building expansions, use of event tents, noise regulations, size of allowed parking areas and stormwater discharge quantity and quality allowed.
Not included in the latest revision was a mandate that all paved areas be comprised of at least 15 percent impervious surfaces and any stricter penalties on law violations. Mayor Kurt Wheeler said the 15 percent impervious surface rule — which is currently in use under the Cazenovia town code — will not work in the village because of the smaller lot sizes versus town lot sizes, and the issue of increased penalties will be reviewed as a separate issue by the village board in the future and any changes made will be applied village-wide, not solely to the Western Gateway district.
During the public comment period of the Aug. 4 meeting, Ledyard Avenue resident David Connor read aloud a letter signed by nearly every street resident stating they “stand united” against the proposal, which “ignores the Comprehensive Plan” and “will destroy the residential character of the village.”
Barry Schreibman, the local zoning attorney who was contacted that morning by the Ledyard Avenue residents for his help, said he sees no evidence that the current homes on Ledyard Avenue are not being maintained, therefore that stated reason for the law is nonexistent. He said the only two property owners on the road who will benefit from the law are in favor of it, while the rest are opposed — suggesting strongly that this is spot zoning.
Multiple residents spoke out about the need to emulate the town’s impervious surfaces law, while Ed Baroody, a member of the board of governors with the Cazenovia Club, said the 250-member club had a “unanimous vote” to oppose the proposed law – a law he called “unfair” and “unwise.”
Hubbard decried much of his neighbors’ comments, saying, “A lot of things that have been said aren’t going to happen … and have been misleading.”
Hubbard, who plans to purchase the houses at 8 and 10 Ledyard Ave. — formerly a single-property house and carriage barn — directly next door to the Brewster Inn at 6 Ledyard Ave., and create a new Brewster Inn overnight wedding and dining venue, said he no longer intends to have outdoor weddings or events if his expansion project occurs. He said instead of using both structures for overnight rooms he will have rooms only in one and the other will be an indoor event facility. This will eliminate people’s concerns about loud outdoor events on his property; but also, with the new 82-room hotel being built in Village Edge South, he is eliminating rooms from his project because the hotel will take that business away, he said.
Hubbard also decried his neighbors’ avid opposition to his plans without any willingness to compromise, equating their stance to recent resident opposition that killed the proposed bakery project and proposed new Circa location in the village, and nearly killed Empire Brewing Company’s farmstead brewery on Route 13.
“Do you want nothing in this town?” He said. “You’ve chased everybody away!”
Alicyn Hart, former owner of Circa, agreed with Hubbard and said she supported the proposed law. “I would remind the board what you stand to lose [by not passing the legislation],” she said.
Local business owner Eric Burrell also took to task a comment made by more than one person at the meeting that no matter what happens with this law someone will “win” and someone will “lose.”
“We’re a small community, there’s no need to have this win/lose mentality,” he said. “We can find a compromise. There’s not just one winner and one loser.”
The board voted to continue the public hearing on the proposed Western Gateway law until its next regular meeting on Sept. 2, during which there may be a vote.
“My sense is that the final version of this law will be ready this month, but people should have the opportunity to comment on that final version,” Wheeler said. “We’re getting near the culminating point where we’re getting all the public input we are going to get.”
He said the board will finalize the proposed legislation and allow final public comments on it before they take their vote.
Full texts of all four drafts of the proposed legislation are available on the village website at villageofcazenovia.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.