Zone Change Considered

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Zone Change Considered
Village Planning Board Working With Trustees for Zone Change
Story by John Thomas
Staff Writer


   The first order of business at Tuesday night’s Village Planning Board was consideration of a new sign for the front of the Howard Hanna Real Estate office. The sign will be suspended from the side of the office on Washington. The company had submitted a drawing of the sign, that will be made from high-density urethane. Code Enforcement Officer Kelly Fredrickson said the material is good quality and will hold up well. A motion was made to approve the sign with the condition that it meets all applicable standards, and would be subject to review by the Code Enforcement Officer. The motion passed.

   Next up for discussion was the zoning change petition and application by Chris and Brenda Perks. On Monday night, the Village Board had referred the request to the Planning Board for its recommendation. The couple wants to create an indoor skateboard park and set of apartments at five Park Ave. The building is an abandoned factory. Currently, the area is zoned industrial, and cannot be used for either the park or apartments. Village Planner Gary Palumbo said the skateboard park would be classified as an indoor entertainment venue. He said changing the zoning to Village Commercial Two (VC-2) would allow both uses, but the couple would have to submit a site plan and apply for two special use permits.   Board Chair Nancy Rogan made it clear she felt changing the zoning to VC-3 would be the better approach. The Village Commercial – 3 designation allows for refurbishing former industrial sites to productive use. But that designation applies only to the building in question, and not a large area. The attorney for the Planning Board, Daniel Spitzer, said the Board at this point only has to tell the Trustees if they think re-zoning is a good idea.

   Because of the Columbus Day holiday, the Village Board of Trustees meeting was rescheduled for October 16th. This means the Planning Board meeting will happen a week before the Trustee meeting. This works as an advantage for the zoning change process. The Perks will submit a site plan to the Planning Board who will be able to comment on it prior to the full Village Board meeting. A public hearing has been called for the Board meeting on the 16th. At that time, the Board will have a better picture of the plans for the building, and the public will be able to comment on the plan. Mr. Palumbo asked if there were going to be any significant changes to the building. Mr. Perks said they would re-install a door that had been covered up. The couple is planning on using the existing windows for the apartments. Mr. Palumbo said he would walk the couple through the rest of the application process.

   The regular meeting was adjourned, but the panel stayed to engage in a discussion regarding the zoning plan for the Village. Mr. Palumbo said there had been and ad hoc committee (unofficial committee to explore a subject), formed by former Mayor Charles Coolidge, that had been reviewing the codes. He said the committee had started clarifying some of the codes but had never finished. In reviewing the laws, he said he had found some typos and minor mistakes that should be corrected. The discussion transformed into a conversation about one of the weak areas of local law: less than 30-day rentals. Currently, only seven properties in the Village can legally offer short term rentals. However, many village properties are rented on a short-term basis. This is unfair to those homeowners who have obtained a permit, paid the fee, and submit to bi-annual inspections. In the discussion, the board agreed the laws should be enforced equally for all Village properties, and should be “in lock step” with town law. Mr. Palumbo said he would go through the local zoning laws and make minor corrections and submit them for the board’s review. The Planning Board can decide if it wants to revise the short-term rental law. The meeting was adjourned.

Brenda and Chris Perks are working to create an indoor skateboard park and set of apartments at Five Park Avenue in Ellicottville.