Property owner wonders why a property used for business shouldn’t be zoned as business

— From the village of Voorheesville
Before and after: The parcel of land at 11 Drywall Lane currently has two different zoning designations: Industrial and Residential. Under the April 9 proposed update to Voorheesville’s zoning code, the parcel would have been rezoned into one district. However, at the April 9 public hearing, Voorheesville Avenue residents whose land abuts 11 Drywall Lane voiced their concern about the potential rezone, and, at the April 30 public hearing, the parcel’s zoning was changed back to the original two districts.

NEW SCOTLAND — Although the owner of 11 Drywall Lane wants to know why his two acres could not be rezoned as simply Business, his neighbors are pleased that their complaints will keep the original zoning in place — partly Industrial and partly Residential. But the final outcome has yet to be determined.

A second public hearing, on April 30, gave village board members another chance to hear residents’ views before adopting zoning to give the village’s new comprehensive plan teeth.

At the April 9 public hearing, Voorheesville Avenue residents whose land abuts 11 Drywall Lane voiced their concern that the potential rezone of the parcel would, in their view, have an adverse effect on all adjacent properties.

The specific parcel of land, 11 Drywall Lane, lies within the roughly 8.5 acres of low-slung industrial buildings at the corner Voorheesville Avenue and Grove Street. A near totality of the area is zoned Industrial.

The two acres of 11 Drywall Lane, however, currently have two separate zoning designations: Industrial and Residential. And the portion of the parcel that is zoned Residential also abuts three homes along Voorheesville Avenue.

Under the April 9 proposed zoning-code change, the two zones would be rezoned as a single district: Business B, which has close to 60 different allowable uses whereas the current zoning has significantly fewer.

In a textbook case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease, at the April 30 public hearing, 11 Drywall Lane had been re-zoned back to two separate zoning designations.

Also at the April 30 public hearing, the owner of 11 Drywall Lane, James Olsen, had his chance to speak, saying that rezoning his property to commercial was “common sense” zoning. Because the current zoning line places one-third of his building in the residential district and the other two-thirds in the business district.

Olsen asked if having a third of his building zoned residential was a concern for the village.

Mayor Robert Conway responded that, yes, the zoning was a concern for the village, and said that it’s something that needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis — as opposed to a general change to the zoning.

Olsen said that the proposed April 9 zoning made no sense and now is the time to change the zoning; it’s always been used as a commercial property, never residential.

If the village keeps the current zoning, Olsen asked, is there a chance that the tractor-trailer trucks that currently park in the rear of the building could no longer do so? Village attorney Richard Reilly told Olsen that there is an existing use variance on a portion of the parcel, which would make it a pre-existing use and not subject to the new zoning.

When Olsen asked what portion of the parcel the use variance applied to, Reilly told him that answer was in the file that the village has on the property and it would be looked into.

“To say I’m disappointed, it’s kind of an understatement,” Olsen said.

Zoning updates

In addition to returning 11 Drywall Lane to its original two zones, the April 30 zoning proposal included some other tweaks and updates since April 9.

It was made clear that, in the floodplain, the only way construction can happen is if it takes place on the same footprint where a building once stood; so, hypothetically, someone could knock down the old Smith’s Tavern and a new structure could be built on that same spot.

The Residential B District in the western portion of the village was broken into three districts, including two new districts called Residential D and what’s left of the Residential B District.

Adjustments were made to the table of uses that are permitted in the zoning districts; some of the uses that were either permitted uses or permitted with a site-plan review will now require a special-use permit, which is an added level of review.

Language was added to clarify and strengthen how a project would be reviewed, and the expectations for when a commercial use abuts a residential use.

And there were additional notice requirements added for projects that come before the zoning or planning boards; a sign will be placed in front of the applicant’s house, notifying neighbors of the application before the zoning or planning board.


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