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Malta nearing decision on downtown zoning

Disagreements over details spark debate at workshop

— Supervisor Paul Sausville felt that the outdoor amenities should be at the discretion of the developer.

“It looks like the Town Board has no say on outdoor amenities,” he said. “I want to make sure the Town Board understands exactly what an outdoor amenity space is and who makes that decision as to what it is. This should be revised to allow the town to negotiate a better quality of life.”

Sausville was especially concerned with setting minimal lot sizes at 5,000 square feet.

“Am I to assume a developer could come in and subdivide this property into 5,000-square-foot lots?” he asked.

Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio clarified that the requirement would be for commercial purposes only. He said a developer could build a two-, three- or four-story building on each of those lots.

Sausville reminded the board of problems the town had in the past in the Silver Beach area, where the town allowed the breaking up of small pieces of property that then became less useful.

“It almost seems like we’re kind of in that situation here, allowing a developer to break a piece of property into chunks of land. It seems like poor planning to me,” he said.

Einsweiler said this concept would leave room for “the little guy.” He argued a small-scale builder who is building a space for a café on the ground floor and two residential units on the upper floors might easily build on a smaller parcel.

“It’s just a very different model of thinking,” he said. “It’s going back to that main street model and would begin a pattern we would like to see of small shop fronts lining Dunning Street.”

Another point of contention between Sausville and Councilman John Hartzell came up later in the two-hour workshop and concerned establishments with outdoor dining being exempt from calculations for adequate parking.

“It is my understanding you didn’t provide enough parking so you could encourage outdoor dining, that somehow by shortchanging the parking lot, that’s good policy,” Sausville said.

Hartzell interrupted and said he had a different understanding and turned to Einsweiler. Sausville, in turn, interrupted Hartzell.

“I think he can speak for himself,” he said.

Despite lingering disagreements, members of the board said that plan to complete the final FBC draft in time for the Jan. 7, 2013, Town Board meeting and would shoot to schedule a Feb. 4 public hearing.

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