Retail target of New Scotland zoning concerns

Welti said that a size cap for commercial buildings has not been agreed upon, but discussions have included proposals of 50,000 to 60,000 square feet.

"It's no one's intention to handcuff [businesses]," he said.

He also discussed creating a mixed-use development, including residential, office and commercial buildings.

Attendees were asked to get into groups of 25 to 30 in classrooms at the high school to have smaller discussions about CZAC's progress.

After some dissent from the crowd, with residents yelling from their seats asking why the group needed to be divided, the crowd dispersed to their classrooms.

During one discussion, some residents said they were unhappy that the workshop was only one night and said the discussion would be better served played out over several days, or even a week.

"This really is a sham," said Marian Mudar of the meeting's brevity.

Mudar also advocated for extending the moratorium on commercial development and possibly even rezoning the commercial district entirely. She recommended using the land for local agriculture instead.

Robert Stapf, New Scotland planning board chair said he is unsure what could be done with the property and is concerned with several factors limiting its development.

"There is no public water or sewer available," he said.

Stapf said he is in favor of having developers hire independent parties to conduct environmental impact studies and a financial analysis. The results would then be turned over to the town to review.

He also said the developer needs to be financially responsible for the roads and infrastructure to go along with the development.

If the independent review and town review show the development is a bad idea, then it is up to the town to put a stop to it.

Stapf said he is in favor of developing the land, but acknowledges the restrictions, and realizes a substantial amount of money will be needed to provide the sewer and water.

"There are a lot of factors out there that are unknown," Stapf said. "I support commercial development of that property[it] lends itself to a blend of uses."

Stapf also added that the entire commercial zone should be addressed, not just the 200-acre lot Sphere is planning to develop.""

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