On Wednesday, April 28, the Guilderland Planning Board approved revisions to the town’s zoning law despite the objections of Don Reeb, president of the McKownville Improvement Association, over a provision dealing with the home business approval process.
The McKownville Improvement Association had long discussions about this proposed change, and would hope that you would not send it forward, and that the Town Board would, in fact, not approve it, said Reeb.
The Town Board is expected to approve the revisions following the public hearing Tuesday, May 4.
The revised law, which incorporated recommendations from the Zoning Review Committee, would allow greater flexibility in permitting mixed-use developments with both commercial and residential dwellings; however, it was the provision that streamlines the home occupation approval process that concerned Reeb.
Reeb said the density of McKownville, with 3,000 people in one square mile, increases the quality-of-life impact that more home occupations will have on the community.
Under the revisions, a minor home occupation, which by definition cannot be discernable from outside the home, would be a permitted use that will no longer require a special-use permit. The revisions also eliminate the site plan requirement for other home occupations and include a list of prohibited home occupations.
Reeb said that a number of unreported home occupations currently in McKownville have a major effect on neighboring properties.
`There are people in McKownville who now put traffic cones in their driveways because they are rather tired of having UPS and other trucking turning around in their driveways,` said Reeb. `This is an annoyance, and it’s a quality-of-life issue.`
Stephen Feeney, chairman of the planning board, disagreed with Reeb’s assessment of the law’s effects. He said that current law governs home occupations through an open-ended definition that gives a lot of discretion to the Zoning Board, and the new law provides clarity.
`The new law, as I see it here, provides much more guidance to those types of uses and what the limitations are,` said Feeney.
Feeney said the law could even help reduce congestion in a densely populated community. He said that allowing people to work from home could reduce the number of cars on the road, and provide the opportunity for neighbors to walk to their accountants or hairstylists.
`From my perspective [the proposed law] is more restrictive when there is a likelihood of impact, and less restrictive when there is no likelihood of impact,` said Linda Clark, the board’s attorney.
Town Planner Jan Weston said the new law would not allow any home occupation that is not allowed under current law. She said the intent is to clarify and streamline the process.
The planning board unanimously approved sending the revisions on to the Town Board, with the recommendation that the town have the law reconsidered by the Zoning Review Committee due to a procedural oversight by the committee.
Weston said the recommendation was made because when the committee considered the proposed law, they did so with the belief that the town limited regional shopping centers to 1 million square feet. In a 1999 court case in the State Supreme Court in Albany County, the developers of Crossgates successful argued to have that law overturned.
The board recommendation was made in the case the Town Board wanted to review the effect that provision will have on the new law. The 1 million square foot limit on regional shopping centers was not in place under the proposed law.
The Town Board will hold a public hearing on the new zoning law, at its Tuesday, May 4 meeting, after this article goes to press. For updates visit Spotlightnews.com. Full text of the law can be accessed on the town’s Web site at townofguilderland.org.