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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 17, 2009

Weeding the zoning code

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The Zoning Review Committee and the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce will begin work next week to update the town codes.

“We’re going to weed out a lot of this,” town planner Jan Weston said about items before the planning board at its agenda review meeting last Wednesday. “It doesn’t need two boards,” she said. Agenda items often come before both the zoning and the planning boards before they receive town approval.

Those items “are not going un-reviewed,” Weston said.

Planning Board Chairman Stephen Feeney, a professional planner, said that he has drafted suggestions for the review committee.

“I’m acting as advisor, or consultant, or staff,” he told The Enterprise. “I’m not on the committee. I’ve drafted food-for-thought kinds of things.” The town staff is proposing changes, and the committee is reviewing the staff’s proposals, he said.

“We don’t need to put people through two boards for home occupations,” Feeney told the planning board. “We don’t need to put people through two boards for in-law apartments.”

Feeney told The Enterprise that towns re-examine their codes every five to 10 years.

“Circumstances change,” he said. “There are new laws and new requirements. A bunch of stuff is administrative. Some sections [of current code] aren’t working that well. We’re trying to streamline the process.”

Feeney and review committee Chairman Bruce Sherwin both said that the changes could be done by a series of amendments, or altogether in one swoop.

“I think there will be quite a few changes,” Feeney said.

“Some things are more obvious than other things,” Sherwin told The Enterprise. Whether the review committee suggests sweeping change or short-term and long-term changes, the updated codes are “something the town has to tackle,” he said. “We have to make sure the comprehensive plan is adhered to.”

Removing minor requests from the oversight of two boards is one objective, Feeney said.

Currently, “By our own law, our own regulations, we have to take a look at it,” he said. “But, we still want to be protective of town interests. We’re hoping to make it easier on applicants.”

More specific changes will be discussed at the review committee’s initial meeting next Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at Guilderland’s town hall. Two additional focus meetings, run by the committee and the chamber of commerce, will be held at the chamber office in Star Plaza on Sept. 24 and 25 at 8 a.m.

The first focus meeting will be for developers, who have “different things at stake” and who may be “more involved in terms of zoning,” Sherwin said. The second focus meeting on Sept. 25 will be for general businesses in town, he said, dealing with signs or other general information.

“It will be interesting to see who comes,” Sherwin said.

Feeney plans to attend the review committee meeting on Sept. 22.

“I’m hoping we can move things along. I’ve got a litany of suggestions,” he said.

Other business

In other business, the planning board recently:

— Approved a proposal, by Greg Meyer for owner Edward Pogoda, to subdivide 1.1 acres on Depot Road into two lots. The board said that the map submitted must show that the large amount of wetlands on the property is permanently protected, and that a grading plan should be submitted;

— Approved an amendment to the sidewalk width required in the Woodfield Estates subdivision off Lydius Street. Joe Bianchine, of ABD Engineering, said that the approved eight-foot sidewalk width was difficult because of the stone fill used in a curved, sloped section. He requested a six-foot sidewalk there.

“Six feet is larger than the standard five-foot [sidewalk],” Feeney said. “It’s quite comfortable”;

— Approved a site plan for a special-use permit requested by Samuel Sonenburg of 38 Anne Drive for an accounting business in his single-family home. The business would have no signs and no employees, Sonenburg said;

— Amended a special-use permit for 2390 Western Ave. to allow a design center on the second floor of a business owned by Troy Miller. The original approved plan did not list retail use. Miller said that the center will be a “library of products,” including furniture, cabinets, and lighting, that can be ordered;

— Approved a site plan to allow the Trustco Bank at 2050 Western Ave. to install an ATM machine in the existing south wall of the building just before the teller window. Trustco does not intend to expand the drive, said James Tobin, an architect for Trustco;

— Approved a site plan for an in-law apartment requested by Mary Cunningham of 2 Gilmore Terrace; and

— Approved a site plan to allow a landscaping home occupation requested by Geoffrey Brown of 871 Altamont-Voorheesville Road.

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