At the Tuesday, March 3, meeting, the New Scotland Planning Board unveiled a draft of its commercial zoning law that calls on developers to prove the viability of projects larger than 10,000 square feet in the commercial zone.
According to the proposal, the developer would be responsible for showing that the impact on the community, economy, environment and infrastructure will not be negatively affected by the development. A potential developer would have to foot the bill for all of the studies related to the proposal.
Under state law, developers must provide certain impact studies, but Bob Staph, chairman of the New Scotland Planning Board, said including a provision in the law will allow a double guarantee that the community will not be adversely affected.
Staph said the process of hammering out the law spawned a good amount of debate and discussion.
"I thought it was very good. Everyone on the board had different issues. There was a lot of back and forth," Staph said.
A draft of the law was first submitted to the planning board by Commercial Zone Advisory Committee members Liz Kormos and Mike Naughton, but the Planning Board redrafted it to remove the 50,000-square-foot cap on retail developments and left out any provisions dealing with the industrial zone and commercial hamlet.
Kormos and Naughton are both members of New Scotlanders for Sound Economic Development, an advocacy group supporting a 50,000-square-foot size cap on commercial developments.
Staph said the most recent draft of the law does not mention the industrial zone and commercial hamlet and deals only with the commercial zone itself. He said there will be four stages of use, starting with 10,000 square feet of permitted use, up to 350,000 square feet of special use.
As the size of the proposed development goes up, so does an open space requirement.