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P&Z Expands M-2A Zoning Regulations



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In response to a request from a construction firm, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has expanded the land uses allowed by the M-2A (Industrial) zoning regulations to include medical office buildings and warehouses, among other uses. P&Z members voted to approve modifying the M-2A zoning regulations at the end of a June 7 session, which ran for more than five hours.

The application submitted by Claris Construction comes in connection with a development firm's proposal for a major commercial/industrial project at a more than 135-acre site in Hawleyville, near Exit 9 of Interstate 84.

Following a public hearing on June 7, P&Z members unanimously approved changes to the M-2A zoning regulations, finding that doing so is consistent with the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development. V

oting in favor were P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell, Jim Swift, Robert Mulholland, Corinne Cox, and Barbara Manville.

Town land use officials have started what likely will be a lengthy review of a major commercial/industrial development proposal involving a 250,000-square-foot warehouse and three buildings enclosing 275,000 square feet of medical office space. The proposed construction of 525,000 square feet of commercial/industrial space there represents more than 12 acres of enclosed area.

Town officials have long anticipated major growth in that area, which many years ago was designated as a site for local economic development. In 2016, the town extended the Hawleyville sanitary sewer system to the Exit 9 area in preparation for such growth.

At the June 7 P&Z public hearing, George Benson, town planning director, said the P&Z created M-2A zoning in Hawleyville in the past in the hope that some large corporate office complex would locate there. But such development is no longer occurring in the Northeast, he added.

In reviewing the land use regulations, officials realized that the regulations needed some rewriting to make them more workable under current economic conditions, he said.

Of the major construction proposed at 10 Hawleyville Road and 90 Mount Pleasant Road, Mr Benson said, "It would almost be like an industrial park.

"I think that all in all the [regulatory] changes will be helpful," he commented. "We've been trying to get this development, to get it on the tax rolls for a long time," he added.

The presence of medical office buildings would improve the area, he said, adding that such growth would result in buses serving the area.

Public Comment

During the public comment section of the hearing, Patrick Napolitano of 13 Whippoorwill Hill Road said it is as yet unclear exactly what would be built on the site. The repetitive alarm noise created by trucks when they are backing up could interrupt residents' sleep at night, he said.

"I urge you to take a good hard look at that (zoning) amendment," he said.

Mr Napolitano said that he believes that the shallow domestic water wells in the area would be adversely affected by the proposed development. "Our quality of life probably would be changed forever," he said.

The dead-end Whippoorwill Hill Road extends from Mount Pleasant Road, just east of the point where a road would enter the development site to provide access to the three proposed medical buildings.

Michael Ricciardi of 16 Whippoorwill Hill Road said of the development site, "That's a really tough piece of land there."

Past issues concerning the property's ownership, plus the rugged terrain and extensive wetlands at the site, have complicated development plans for the tract.

Mr Ricciardi said that he has no problem with medical office buildings being constructed, but he does not like the idea of building a warehouse at the site.

Mr Benson said the specifics of proposed construction for the property would be reviewed by the P&Z at an upcoming public hearing.

The P&Z created M-2A zoning to promote economic development without adversely affecting the basic character of surrounding neighborhoods or overburdening the natural and built environment.

The zoning rule changes allow warehouses, distribution centers, wholesale businesses, and self-storage facilities as uses in the M-2A zone under the terms of a special zoning permit. Now listed as "primary" land uses in that zone are retail stores with a maximum size of 25,000 square feet, personal services businesses, financial institutions, and restaurants. Child day care centers and adult day care centers would be allowed as accessory uses.

Existing M-2A regulations allow indoor/outdoor recreation/sports facilities as a land use under the terms of a special zoning permit.

Medical offices are allowed as a permitted use of M-2A zoning. Other previously permitted uses are laboratories for research, design, and experimentation; various light industrial uses; and hotels and conference centers.

The 34-acre parcel at 90 Mount Pleasant Road is owned by 90 Mount Pleasant Road LLC, of 153 South Main Street. The 102-acre parcel at 10 Hawleyville Road is owned by M. Newtown Associates LP, of New York City.

Other Matters

Other business at the June 7 P&Z meeting included two public hearings on Prithvi Real Estate Management LLC's proposal to construct a two-story 17,767-square-foot veterinary hospital at 94 South Main Street. The firm is seeking a change of zone for the site from R-1 (Residential) to SMVDD/SDD-5 (South Main Village Design District/Special Design District-5). The proposed business is known as Pleasant Paws Pet Center. P&Z members agreed to resume those hearings on June 21.

P&Z members also continued their review of final as-built plans for the Edona Commons condominium complex at 95 & 99 Church Hill Road.

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