Residents Question Land Use Changes

Sep052014

Residents Question Land Use Changes

 

townhall_120About 15 people showed up at the Lansing Town Hall Wednesday evening to ask questions about a proposed, revised land use ordinance.  Many had questions about specific allowed uses, but Town Board members said that the proposal represents minor administrative changes that will ease the process for residents and Code/Fire Enforcement Officer & Building Inspector Lynn Day.

"This is just basic changes to get through until we can do an overhaul.  We want to wait for the comprehensive plan revisions to be completed," explained Day.  "At that time this stuff will be looked at.  But what we're trying to do is adjust basic things now.  We're taking out duplication and leaving the things that are there.  When we overhaul the whole thing we'll take a hard look at that stuff, but we have to wait for the comprehensive plan."

"These are adjustments, many of them proposed by our former planning consultant Jonathan Kanter," added Councilman Doug Dake.  "He felt that some of these changes were valid and we didn't necessarily need to have the comprehensive plan in place to tweak them."

While there were some tweaks to specific uses, the biggest change was in the process for implementing many of the already allowed land uses.  While they are subject to conditions of a special permit now, they will be required to go through a site plan review by the Planning Board if the law is passed.

"A lot of the rationale behind the recommended changes is to provide additional clarity, address some inconsistencies throughout the document," said Councilman Robert Cree.  "When the comprehensive plan is done it will allow a larger and more complete overhaul."

townboard_20140903From left: Councilman Robert Cree, Councilman Ed LaVigne, Town Attorney Guy Krogh, Supervisor Kathy Miller, Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins, Councilman Doug Dake

Supervisor Kathy Miller said the Ag protection report was ready, but when the committee voted on it they were not happy with what they came up with.  They are now addressing those issues, which has delayed their final recommendations.  Miller said she has spoken to leaders in other communities who have conducted major overhauls of their land use ordinances, and they say it takes three to four years.  She said that before a major overhaul of the land use ordinance is addressed the Agricultural Protection Plan will have to be completed as well as major Comprehensive Plan revisionscurrently under review.

"There's no sense in doing that now," she said.  "Those are the two things we need to wait for before we make major changes.  (In this revision) some of the things that were permitted before with special conditions are still permitted, but with a site plan.  Even when you have the Comp Plan done and you have the Ag Protection Plan in place it takes a long time to do it."

Resident Sarah Thompson asked why more uses are not removed, at least until a more comprehensive overhaul of the ordinance is undertaken.

"If we take them out for you, then someone in B1 wants something else taken out, and then somebody else in R1..." Miller replied.  "Pretty soon we are overhauling the whole thing.  I don't think we should do that until we have the Comp Plan the Ag Protection Plan done.  We've lived with it this long."

Most of the questions dealt with specific land uses, and concern about making it easier to implement some uses in certain zones.  Resident Doug Baird complained that non-farming residents in agricultural districts have been ignored in forming zoning and agricultural policy in the town, worrying that a convenience store or gas station could pop up next to their properties, ruining the quality of the agricultural character of the areas.  Some legal terminology seemed unclear to some people. Others worried that allowing indoor shooting ranges could pose a noise problem.

Board members were challenged to explain their own visions for the town's future.

"Personally I'd like to go from high density moving to low density like rings on a tree," said Councilman Ed LaVigne.  "I don't know what sprawl is to some people, but if you look in Lansing we have pockets, we have little hamlets.  If you look at our history over the last 200 years we have thriving areas that have changed.  This is simply part of that process.  We see where the growth is and hopefully we are connected with that."

Miller said some changes would be made based on the concerns raised at Wednesday's meeting.  Day said than any changes would have to be posted by next Wednesday to meet legal requirements for the timing of the public hearing.  The public hearing is scheduled for the October 15 Town Board meeting after which the Board is likely to vote on whether or not it will become law.

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The Town of Lansing formed in 1817 when Tompkins County was formed

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