New Scotland official wants to toss size cap

The New Scotland Planning Board chairman said at a recent workshop he is in favor of tossing out a provision on a proposed zoning law that would cap retail development at 50,000 square feet.

Planning Board Chairman Robert Staph said the board is considering proposing a new draft of what is known as Local Law I.

He said at the Thursday, Feb. 19, Planning Board workshop that community sized developments should be permitted, and those could be as large as 300,000 square feet of building area.

No final decision has been made regarding the language of the new draft.

Staph said the version of the law included in the Commercial Zone Advisory Committee's report exceeded its scope. He also criticized it for not addressing how to handle "personal services" business, such as accountants and consultants working from their homes. The draft included in CZAC's report suggested a 50,000-square-foot cap on retail developments.

"I think it's irresponsible for them to submit it the way it is," Staph said. "I am in favor of allowing people to have the right to develop the land in a reasonable way."

Staph said he believes "community-sized" developments are consistent with the town's comprehensive plan.

The law was initially drafted by Mike Naughton and Liz Kormos and included in the CZAC report issued to the town board. Naughton and Kormos are both members of New Scotlanders for Sound Economic Development, an advocacy group supporting a size cap on retail structures.

The New Scotland Planning Board discussed the scope and merit of a draft of Local Law I at the Thursday workshop.

Daniel Mackay, founder of NS4SED, said Staph's proposed draft would allow for, in his eyes, "regionally" drawing developments, which he and his organization are opposed to.

"Allowances for a retail size cap of 300,000 square feet or even 130,000 square feet have no basis in sound planning and are a further insult to the public will as expressed on multiple occasions and contexts over the past year in New Scotland," Mackay in a written statement. "I note there was no documentation discussed last night to support how the town can accommodate the expected impacts from development on that scale, except to note that future applicants would be obligated to prove that impacts would not negatively affect our community."

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