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Town of Niagara: More work still needed on zoning law change

Fri, Oct 20th 2023 11:00 am

By Timothy Chipp

Contributing Writer

Town of Niagara officials have more work to do before they can amend a local zoning law governing self-storage facilities.

Town Attorney Corey A. Auerbach said the law must go before Niagara County for approval before the four-member Town Board can take action.

“Because (the law) is townwide, it triggers a referral requirement,” Auerbach said. “So, the town will (likely) take action at its November meeting.”

If everything goes well at the county level, the board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 – a change from the normal third Tuesday meeting date due to the Thanksgiving holiday – to put a stamp of approval on the change.

The new law reverts to a previous zoning code restricting self-storage lots to industrial zoning. Currently, the town allows them in commercial zones after an exception to the old rule became permanent and was overlooked.

Supervisor Lee Wallace, who will end his service at the conclusion of the year, said the change is needed to prevent more and more self-storage facilities from popping up.

“The board has concerns about there being too many of these things,” he said.

In preparation for the vote next month, town officials held a public hearing before Tuesday’s regular meeting. They learned there may be an overcorrection in the proposed change they could look into before the final vote.

Business owner Mike Richards questioned the wording of the new law including not just self-storage facilities, but any kind of warehouse at all.

He said he’s got plans for developing one and wanted to know if he’d be OK to proceed or if the new law would hamper him.

Richards was told by Wallace during the hearing he’d be safe to proceed as the intent of the change is for addressing self-storage only.

“(Richards)’s point is well taken,” Wallace said following the meeting. “Maybe we can tighten it up to reflect what he said. That certainly wasn’t the intent.”

Uniland Update

Despite appearing on the month’s initial agenda, absent from a vote Tuesday was also the site plan and State Environmental Quality Review declaration for the proposed construction of an industrial facility at 3401 Military Road.

Amherst-based developer Uniland Development is in the final stages of planning the facility on a 26-acre parcel that would sit south of the railroad overpass south of Lockport Road.

However, Wallace said Tuesday, there is still some back-and-forth discussion over what the undeveloped land on the parcel will be zoned.

During a public hearing on the proposal in September, residents in the surrounding areas said they want what land Uniland isn’t developing to be zoned either as R-1 (single-family residential) or LI (light industrial).

Uniland would prefer to zone the area R-3 (apartment residential), but stated there’s no immediate intent to develop.

Wallace said Tuesday a resolution could happen “hopefully soon.” He added the board has the ability to change the zoning to whatever it likes at any time, though.

Ultimately, the board will have final say, he said.

Tax Rate Update

Town officials are set to charge residents new tax rates when the town’s 2024 budget kicks into effect in January.

Five special districts will be funded by taxes this year, with rates set based on what category taxpayers fall into: homestead and non-homestead.

Homestead rates were set as follows: highway ($2.46 per $1,000 valuation); water improvement ($0.55 per $1,000 valuation); sewer operating ($2.83 per $1,000 valuation); fire protection ($1.54 per $1,000 valuation); and lighting ($0.28 per $1,000 valuation).

Non-homestead rates were set as follows: highway ($4.59 per $1,000 valuation); water improvement ($0.91 per $1,000 valuation); sewer operating ($2.83 per $1,000 valuation); fire protection ($2.74 per $1,000 valuation); and lighting ($0.50 per $1,000 valuation).

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