By Allison Deutschman
The Porter Town Board Monday took up the matter of rescinding Local Law 2014-71, covering permitted sales and service of farm and garden equipment in a home occupation environment.
In doing so, the board voiced its preference of returning the matter to earlier enforcement under a 2010 Town of Porter zoning law.
The Town Board is expected to discuss the matter further en route to an anticipated public hearing on Monday, May 9. Once implemented, such future activity on private properties in the town would require a special use permit.
In his motion, Councilman Joe Fleckenstein said he was pursing the special use permit requirement as well as the existing compulsory site plan criteria to further explain guidelines to those interested in running farm and garden repair operations in agricultural zones.
"This (current) law allows farm and garden repair in agricultural zones with just a site plan review," he said. "I want to return it to the last law that we had, that had a site plan review and a special use permit. And with a special use permit it would have provisions (for) limitations that would go with a farm and garden repair center."
Fleckenstein said the Niagara County Planning Board would develop the permit specifications criteria so that the limitations for those operating in these industries would be clear.
"You would put in things like hours of operation, number of employees, size and type of equipment that could be brought on the property," Town Attorney Mike Dowd explained. "Mr. Fleckenstein is saying that we should continue to allow that activity in these zones, under very specific provisions, so that it is allowed for small family-run operations, not big commercial ones."
Dowd said the intent of the change was to gear such activity to what he called a "home occupation."
"To put in very specific provisions to control it, so that it stays what it is intended to be: a small family-type operation," Dowd said. "To put in specific regulations so that it can't be misinterpreted, so you can't turn it into a full-blown commercial operation."
Fleckenstein's motion was seconded by Councilman Jeff Baker. It went on to be approved by the board 5-0 on a roll-call vote.
Once Local Law 2014-71 is rescinded by the board, future town regulation covering this activity would revert to what was in place in 2010. Its regulatory criteria would fall under the Town of Porter Zoning Board of Appeals to implement.
Those found violating any special use permit regulations covering this activity during a specified five- or seven-year span would see their permit revoked and be found in violation.
Lake Road resident William Dean, who is currently in a lawsuit with the town over the alleged commercial operations of neighbor Mike McCabe, a former town councilman, voiced his concerns that rescinding Local Law 2014-71 would enable McCabe to continue operating.
"It seems (that) allowing for this use at all lends itself to abuse," Dean said. "The commercial behavior doesn't seem to be manageable at all."
In other news, the board discussed creating a new law that would target solicitation activities in Porter. Baker presented the issue for discussion. He said he was made aware of it from complaints by town residents. Currently, Porter has no such law prohibiting solicitation of residents in the town; it only requires solicitors to apprise Town Hall of their activity.
The Porter Town Board will be taking up this and other matters at its next meeting: 7 p.m. Monday, May 9, at Town Hall.