Retail target of New Scotland zoning concerns

At a public workshop regarding town zoning laws, some New Scotland residents suggested rewriting the laws altogether, while others said additional workshops were needed to come up with a viable plan.

The Commercial Zone Advisory Committee held the meeting Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville to discuss progress toward drafting a revision of the zoning laws, including a possible size cap on retail businesses.

I hope they preserve the rural nature of the town of New Scotland, said resident Allan Bausback. "I hope the changes [in the zoning law] reflect that."

A temporary moratorium on new buildings larger than 30,000 square feet has been in place since May to allow the town time to address its zoning laws. The moratorium was enacted in response to a commercial development proposed by Syracuse-based Sphere that would include a 137,000-square-foot "anchor" store. It is set to expire Nov. 12.

At the workshop, the public's comments ranged from suggestions to rezone the commercial district, to requiring a financial commitment from developers, to constructing a botanical garden on the site Sphere is hoping to develop.

Members of the advocacy group, New Scotlanders for Sound Economic Development set up a display at the high school and handed out literature supporting a size cap on commercial retail buildings of 50,000 square feet.

Resident Peter Burde said he was concerned about how the sheer amount of information gathered in the evening would be drafted to provide a meaningful and useful tool for the CZAC.

"How is it going to be brought together?" Burde asked.

He said he supports a 50,000-square-foot size cap on commercial buildings but would favor an appeals process.

Mike Welti, a senior planner at Behan Planning Associates, which facilitated the meeting, laid out some of the more complex and confusing aspects of the comprehensive plan, such as the definition of "regional draw," and the definition and location of the "hamlet" of New Scotland.

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