If one were to view the Village of Lewiston residential map as a puzzle, they'd notice that some of the pieces aren't the right size. So says David Giusiana, chairman of the Planning and Historic Preservation Board.
"The Village of Lewiston has such a unique character, and there's so many houses that don't fit," he told trustees.
Giusiana and members of the Planning Board asked the Village Board to add residential site plan approval to their purview. They said their expertise and dialogue could result in more logical modifications.
As an example, Giusiana called an approved garage addition at North Ninth and Oneida streets perfectly legal but aesthetically "just wrong."
"This thing looks as foreign as foreign gets," he said.
Had such a project come before the Planning Board, he inferred, members could've suggested something different and more in keeping with the neighborhood.
"In the end, I think the character of the work to be done will improve (with Planning Board input)," Giusiana said.
"We're just trying to keep the integrity of the village," Planning Board member Jamie Symmonds said.
Giusiana said his board would look more to homes and additions "in concert" with neighboring structures (i.e. neighbors matching neighbors) than necessarily in line with every jot and tittle of the village code. In that respect, board members would work in cooperation with the building and zoning officers, who are tasked with enforcing the law.
Mayor Terry Collesano said he favors Giusiana's idea, and cited the garage as a perfect example of why the Planning Board oversight would work.
"I could envision a much better garage," he said. "You would've given a much better decision."
Trustees Bruce Sutherland and Terri Mudd expressed some trepidation over a subjective board possibly overriding the fixed law.
"If you take criteria away, you have a problem," Mudd said.
Giusiana said five Planning Board members are more apt to assess a project's "big picture" effects than one village officer.
"To me, dialogue removes subjectivity," he said.
The Village Board agreed to hold a public hearing on this matter. Residents can weigh in on amending the law to allow the Planning Board to assume architectural review.
This opportunity is tentatively scheduled to happen as part of the board's regular 6 p.m. meeting on Monday, Nov. 15, at the Red Brick Municipal Building.