by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Town Board will wait until its March meeting to enact a local law establishing a moratorium on development in R-2 zoning.
After holding a public hearing at Monday's Town Board meeting on local law intro No. 3 of 2015, which would set a four-month moratorium and establish an R-2 review committee, the council decided to wait until all members of the nine-member committee have been selected before passing the law. The committee members appointed by the Town Board would be composed of two members of the Planning Board; one member each from the Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Advisory Board and Economic Development Advisory Board; and four residents of Grand Island.
Councilman Gary Roesch said that rather than approve the moratorium at Monday's meeting and start the 120-day clock ticking, the board wants to vote on the law in March, after the committee is formed. Some of the town advisory boards have yet to meet and discuss the matter.
"If we vote on it today, the clock starts," Roesch said. "We don't have yet a committee made up of residents presently."
The proposed law comes as the Town Board considers preliminary plat approval for the Lighthouse Pointe development. Supervisor Mary Cooke noted the public hearing for the preliminary plat remains open.
The Town Board will next meet March 2 at 8 p.m.
"I just hope everybody understands the reasoning behind this. We're not delaying it because of any negotiations or whatever," Roesch said of opting not to pass a law immediately after the hearing.
Anthony Cutaia of Rane Property Management proposes a residential subdivision at East River and Whitehaven roads that would include 246 attached townhouse units in 41 two-story buildings with six townhouse units each. The developer had sought a rezoning of the property from R-2 to R-3 to allow apartments, but withdrew that proposal in October. Residents in the vicinity of the parcel call the latest proposal "townhouse-like apartments" that don't fit the R-2 zoning classification.
The first of three public hearings on Monday's agenda, the law says the Town Board "after consultation with the Planning Board, finds that the portion of the town code creating R-2 districts may no longer reflect the state of development, growth in the community, and the values of the community."
R-2 zoning, adopted in 2005 based on the comprehensive plan in 1994, has not been revisited by the Town Board, the law stated.
"The board believes the change in circumstances since the current code was adopted creates an immediate need to revisit the R-2 zones across the town," the proposed moratorium law says. "The Town Board notes that a number of R-2 zoned areas serve as transition zones between different densities and uses of properties, and it believes the current zoning tools are inadequate to fully address the unique challenges presented by transitory scenarios."
Opponents of the Lighthouse Point development are pleased with the moratorium.
During the public hearing Monday, Paul Koppmann of Timberlink Drive commended the Town Board and the Planning Board "for recognizing the need to revisit the current zoning."
"In almost 10 years since this R-2 zoning has been evaluated, Grand Island has seen many changes in the properties adjoining the R-2 zoned lands. Things like lower density, greater green space between adjoining property for transition is essential and a vital interest to all the Grand Island residents," Koppmann said. "This is clearly outlined in our master plan."
He said he supported formation of a committee to review R-2 zoning.
"I'm sure this committee will evaluate all the aspects of the proposed local law and consider the numerous comments and concerns expressed at the open hearing as well the correspondence to the Town Board and the Dispatch," Koppmann said.
"I believe all Grand Island residents should have the same goal: make a great place to live even better," he said. "Balance, which promotes quality future development without compromising existing property values and the quality of life of current residents, really should be the goal. Perhaps, through this process, developers like Lighthouse Pointe and others will present Grand Island a plan that really reflects the quality that we both expect and deserve."
Lighthouse Pointe opponent Joe LaLonde of East River Road thanked the boards on behalf of "the group of neighbors that has become a very large, vocal group that has been working with the town officials."
"We are very much in support of this law being enacted," LaLonde said. "We're fully supportive and we hope that this is passed this evening,"
In other actions at the meeting:
Following the second public hearing of the night, the board referred to the Planning Board an application by Christopher Beyer for a special-use permit to keep up to 12 animals on eight acres on in an R-1B zoning district at 1839 Stony Point Road.
The third public hearing concerned a special use permit application for Carol and Jack Hugill of 2761 Bedell Road for a camping trailer park in an M-1 district. Dan Drexelius of Whitehaven Road said he was "kind of confused here" about the application.
"What is a camping trailer park? Is this for one trailer or for multiple trailers?" Drexelius asked. "So how many could he have? 50? 100? Three? One?"
Cooke said the application (is for two trailers. Neighbors such as Jamie and Prospero Tabone, though, were concerned about the number of trailers that could end up on the parcel. They said they would not have bought the property and built a home there 10 years ago had they known a trailer park could end up across the street.
Peter Coppola of Grand Island Boulevard said he has known the Hugills for many years and has seen how they have improved the property in question.
"I think we all know that they're asking for this so they can stay on that property during the summer months, for a few months, while they're up here from Florida," Coppola said. "If they weren't living there, they could have the trailer there as part of their storage facility."
"And I certainly understand the people that live near them. I know for a fact that they're not in any absolute wish to create a trailer park there because they have a very good business going on with their storage facilities," Coppola said.
Town Attorney Peter Godfrey said in order to have an expansion of the proposed use beyond the present application, an additional application and another subsequent public hearing would be required.
The board voted 4-0 to refer the matter to the Planning Board, which meets Monday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall conference room.
The Town Board filled vacancies on two advisory boards. The board appointed Amy Stockinger to the Architectural Review Advisory Board for a five-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2019. There is a possible resignation coming up, Councilman Ray Billica said, in which case Stockinger would become a permanent member.
In unfinished business, the board added two Islanders to the Conservation Advisory Board, appointing Suzanne Tomkins for the remainder of a term expiring Dec. 31, 2015, and Ron Rezabek to a remainder of a term expiring Dec. 31, 2016.
Cooke reminded residents Town Hall will be closed Feb. 16 for Presidents Day.