by Terry Duffy
Sanborn residents came, listened and responded to a number of town rezoning proposals at a Wednesday evening session in the Sanborn firehall.
"We're here to talk rezoning within the town," said Wendel Companies consultant Andrew C. Reilly.
Town Supervisor Steve Reiter opened with a call for greater input from residents than what came from a February session in Sanborn, much of it focused on the same zoning discussed Wednesday. "It's very important we hear your input," said Reiter, echoing frustration that of 120 residents who attended that session the town received a mere 12 responses.
First off, however, was an issue that many in the crowd of roughly 50 had been growing leery of, and one that brought relief upon hearing the news. Tim Hortons informed the town it withdrew its request for a restaurant-store operation eyed for a property at Saunders Settlement and Townline roads. "They changed the design of their buildings," said Reiter, telling residents that as a result the Tim Hortons plan "won't fit on the lot anymore."
Reiter said the town's planned public hearing Monday on the proposal will go on as scheduled, but that no action would be taken.
Soon after, discussion turned to the town's home-rule zoning project, significant portions of which are targeted for Sanborn. "You have to have a plan," said Reilly, telling the crowd the town's latest moves on rezoning were borne by the fact that while a comprehensive plan was completed in 2001, with amendments added since, no definitive actions with respect to zoning had been done in years and that changes were necessary. He told the crowd that much of the catalyst for change had come from Town Building Inspector Tim Masters, who had pressed town officials on the need to modernize the town's zoning code
"There's no black and white here; we've made some changes," said Reilly.
He went on to discuss a number of proposals eyed town-wide, many of which were reviewed at an April 9 Town Board presentation by Wendel. Included are: a combining of the town's numerous R-1 districts into one single district, with new specifications on yard depths being uniform; the creation of a rural residential transition district, reflecting changes from a very rural district into a more suburban R-1 district; the redefining of the town's industrial districts, and the creation of commercial zoning districts to support different types of development.
For Sanborn, the biggest change would see designated areas in the hamlet zoned as Traditional Neighborhood Development.
According to Wendel, the new TND zoning would "allow for residential, restricted commercial and mixed use properties" and include "design standards to promote high quality development."
Reilly said the new TND areas would include Buffalo Street, both sides; from Niagara Street on the southeast to areas just before the corner of Saunders Settlement Road and Buffalo Street on the north. Others include both sides of Niagara Street and on the south side of Saunders Settlement Road, from Townline Road past Griffin Street to the Subway property. "We've made the changes that the people made, asked for," said Reilly, telling the crowd that among the TND features are new restrictions placed on the presence of businesses having a drive-thru adjacent to residential areas.
Regarding the just-pulled Tim Hortons plan, Reilly said that under the proposed TND once approved, a developer with similar plans for a drive-thru would have to re-approach the town and present a need for a special use permit, as the TND does not provide for drive-thrus. Reilly pointed out that current zoning for business now in place in Sanborn does allow for businesses to have drive-thrus without the need for a special use permit. "It's about safety," said Reilly, adding that the new provision allows businesses and residents in an area to co-exist better.
Following Reilly's presentation, the session opened to Q-and-A format, where residents peppered Reilly and Reiter on a variety of concerns, ranging from obtrusive signage at businesses on Buffalo Street, to the impact that a special use permit requirement could have on a business, to speed issues, to the presence of 24-hour businesses in the hamlet and the impact on residents.
Businessman Gary Townsend, who owns a number of properties in the hamlet, said that the special use permit provision would make it harder for him to operate. He told Reilly that changes should be directed at specific properties and not the whole community.
"This is not the end of this tonight," responded Reilly. He admitted to Townsend and residents that differences in priority do exist and that he and town officials are listening. "We're willing to change," said Reilly.
"Look, none of these changes have been adopted yet," said Reiter. "We're here because we want to address situations. We want to hear your responses."
Reiter said of the town's master plan, particularly its zoning codes, "they haven't been done in over 30 years, that's why problems exist.
"Problems exist, because none of this has been addressed before," continued Reiter. He closed by urging the residents to give the town their input and told them he was "relieved that Tim Hortons backed out."
Reiter requested that questionnaires on rezoning that were being distributed in the hamlet this week be returned by May 24 in preparation for the upcoming regular Town Board regular meeting.
"We have a lot of stuff we have to do here," said Reiter. I think we can work this out."