February 11, 2011

Current state of zoning

The Town Board's agenda meeting didn't finish until 9:00pm Wednesday, so the zoning discussion was kind of late and rushed, ending around 10:15pm. Most of the substantial discussion was about mining - gravel and topsoil - and I think in the end the board decided to allow it with a special use permit in the Conservation zone. (It didn't look like there were resources in the Rural Residential zone to make it worth adding that possibility.)

There was some discussion of density formulas. Bruno Schickel continued his broad opposition to the size of the Conservation zone, but it didn't sound (though it was late) like he convinced the board any more than I've convinced them that the map and description of commercial zones is a horrible idea.

In running through the rest of the zoning, it sounded like the Planned Unit Development section was going to get a rewrite, mostly because the process it described isn't clear or workable. I suggested that in its present form it was a "get out jail free card" from zoning. Other changes sounded more like tweaks.

The Board did introduce a Sound Performance Standards Law, but that actually amends current zoning, and isn't (yet) part of the new zoning.

My best guess is that we'll see a new complete draft sometime this month, or maybe in early March, to appear on the Proposed Zoning Law page. Planning Director Dan Kwasnowski also said that there would be a tweaked map, though I don't know at all what to expect of that.

I know the Board wants to finish this, but I don't think they're done - in ways that go beyond Varna, where they've acknowledged not being done. I think they solved a lot of likely complaints about restrictions on uses by separating Neighborhood Residential from Rural Residential, probably the biggest step I've seen them take toward making this more digestible. I still think, though, that there's a lot of ugliness and missed opportunity lurking in that document. The use chart itself, the most visible piece, isn't all that different from current uses, but the definitions and much of the rest - yes, after all this time - still don't feel properly cooked to me.

For now, I'll hold off on more comments - except maybe for some fiction - until there's a clear new draft to work with.

Posted by simon at February 11, 2011 5:57 PM in
Note on photos