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Porter Board approves land use zoning law

by jmaloni

Adopts 2011 budget

Sat, Nov 13th 2010 12:00 pm
by Terry Duffy

Porter Board members had a busy session Monday, one that saw the board adopting the town's 2011 $4.6 million budget.

But the big newsmaker that night was Town Board action on the proposed land use zoning law, one that saw significant discussion en route to it being passed. Included were more than a few criticisms of one minor portion of the measure by some Youngstown Estates residents.

Five years in the making, Porter's new and lengthy land use zoning law includes revisions from earlier responses to the draft presented at an August review session. The new version is still considered "an evolving document" and remains subject to future changes by the Town Board, said Nancy Orsi, former councilwoman and member of the town's land use committee who prepared the plan. Key elements include:

  • Deletions and changes to the plan affecting right to farm regulations that were seen as being in conflict at the August session with sections of the state agriculture and markets law. As a result, the land use revisions now provide farmers in Porter with "unique conditions," permitting them to continue a number of activities on their properties - from energy generation to storage of vehicles -- without restrictions;
  • Creation of medium density residential districts. Existing areas include the Youngstown Estates and Collingwood Estates neighborhoods and the hamlet of Ransomville. A newly designated area now includes generally undeveloped lands in the town's northwest area near Fort Niagara State Park, namely areas on the east side of Lake Street just outside of Youngstown and a portion of Lake Road just north of the Robert Moses Parkway.
  • Creation of three industrial zones -- M-1, light industrial; M-2, general industrial and M-3 heavy industrial. All three are found in northern areas of the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site and include CWM Chemical Services property.
  • Creation of a commercial mixed-use zone on Ransomville Road, north of the hamlet of Ransomville.

Comments that night to the plan overall were limited. But Orsi and the board did hear from Youngstown Estates residents Daniel Stayner, Joseph Curatolo, Jim Caprio and Pat Gray, who expressed their displeasure over a portion of the existing zoning law that covers storage of vehicles (RV's, storage trailers, boats) on properties.

All spoke of notices they received from the town's code enforcement officer (who was absent that night), asking them to remove the boats from their driveways within 10 days. The problem stems from existing portions of the town zoning law dating from 1998 and carrying over to the new version that prohibit storage of trailers and vehicles in certain areas of private properties.

The men told the board they were unaware they had been in violation. They also said they were being singled out and that there are residents throughout the town that typically store boats without problem.

Board members responded the residents did in fact receive the notices due to the complaints of neighbors.

"We know we have a lot of boat owners here," said Orsi. "But there are people who object. We have complaints about the storage of boats."

Stayner questioned the reasoning of permitting storage in certain areas of a property but not in others. "I don't know if an orderly appearance would be enhanced" by parking locations, said Stayner.

Orsi responded, "There are options," and went on to name locations in the town where they could store their boats. All replied they felt it was impractical and went on to ask if there could not be some compromise, such as November to April restrictions for parking boats, as their boats are used on a weekly basis during the summer and hauling them to storage areas after each use would be cumbersome. They again told the board that had they known about this ordinance before, they would have come in sooner, and they felt singled out.

At this point some board members appeared sympathetic to the complaints and were considering tabling the measure completely. But they were strongly advised against doing so by Orsi. She argued the latest zoning document is years in preparation and was considered long overdue. Further, she said the old document has been causing the town problems. She argued it needed to be adopted as soon as possible.

Orsi said any changes such as those criticisms by the residents could be addressed and modified later on. "Get the document in place, work with it and then make changes, if necessary. This is something that has not been done lightly or carelessly," said Orsi, again urging approval of the measure.

Board members went on to do just that in a unanimous vote soon after. The zoning regulations supersede a 1998 document and take effect immediately. They told the boat owners to return at a later date to request any changes.

Also acted on was the town's $4.6 million budget for 2011. Key elements include: $2.2 million in General Fund A and B spending, $1.03 million in Highway Department spending, $52,300 for Lakeshore Sewer Improvement Areas, $255,394 for the Ransomville Volunteer Fire Co., $158,038 for the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co., and funding for special districts.

The plan brings an estimated general fund tax rate of $1.75 per thousand of assessed valuation and includes no highway tax for town residents.

Salaries for 2011 included in the budget are: $29,391, town supervisor; $16,242, each for the two town justices; $7,165, each for the four town councilman; $36,745 for the town clerk and $34,355 for the town superintendent of highways.

Town Board reported "no changes" overall to the plan, which was unanimously adopted that night.

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