Ticonderoga residents still have time to comment on a proposed revision of the town’s zoning law. The proposed law is available at the town clerk’s office as well as online at www.townofticonderoga.org
Ticonderoga residents still have time to comment on a proposed revision of the town’s zoning law.
About two dozen people attended a public hearing on the measure Dec. 8, most expressing concerns with the changes. Many of the complaints centered on the process, which included a residents committee, a paid consultant and a series of public information meetings. Others voiced concerns about their individual situations.
The proposed law is available at the town clerk’s office as well as online at www.townofticonderoga.org
Written comments on the zoning changes can Emailed to Supervisor Deb Malaney at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Community Building, Montcalm Street, Ticonderoga 12883.
There is no deadline for comments, but Malaney expects the town board to act on the proposed law before March 31. The zoning revision project is funded by a Quality Communities grant from the New York State Department of State. That grant expires March 31.
The existing Ticonderoga zoning law is 30 years old, Malaney said. It has been amended 20 times. In 2009 a resident’s committee with the help of a paid consultant, Brandy Saxton of PlaceSense in Port Henry, began a complete review of the law.
“The existing zoning law is at a point where, in some areas, in contradicts itself and leaves the town open to legal challenges,” Malaney said. “A revision of the zoning law is also part of our comprehensive plan and has been requested by many businesspeople.”
Saxton pointed out the public has been invited to participate throughout the process.
“The committee invited the public to nine meetings to discuss the proposed changes, in addition to holding regular committee meetings that included opportunity for public comment,” Saxton said. “A mailing was sent town-wide in June 2010 to inform residents about the project and opportunities to have input on the changes being drafted. Throughout the process drafts were posted online and available for review at the town office.”
Malaney and Saxton agree the proposed revised zoning plan will have little affect on most people.
“There are no radical changes in the existing zoning law,” Malaney said. “It creates a blueprint for sensible, future growth.”
“While it is a complete overhaul of the current zoning, most homeowners — except perhaps those on the lakeshore and maybe some in the village area — are unlikely to notice any difference,” Saxton said.
Matt Fuller, town attorney, said the proposed law, if adopted, will have no impact on existing structures. They will be grandfathered under the new law.
The proposed zoning changes focus on three keys areas, according to Saxton — commercial property, downtown and lakefront properties.
“In commercial areas, standards are being proposed intended to result in higher quality, better designed commercial development with design guidelines for large buildings, landscaping, signs, lighting, etc.,” the planner said.
“In downtown, standards are being proposed to ensure than new development is compatible with traditional downtown character,” Saxton continued.
“Around the lakeshore, there will still be a high level of review of all development and substantial limitations on new development and expansions,” she said. “This largely puts into writing what the planning board has been doing for years, but which was not as clearly authorized by the current law as it should be.”
The proposed changes will have little impact on the vast majority of Ti residents, she stressed.
“While the draft law may look daunting, a lot of it only applies to large projects and very little actually applies to individual homeowners,” Saxton said. “The committee tried hard to set up a two-tier system throughout the regulations in recognition that they did not want to over-regulate small businesses and projects, but that they did want to be sure the town had all the tools it needed to deal with large businesses and projects.
“Ticonderoga is a very diverse community — it has farmland in the valley, forested uplands, major industry, waterfront, village and downtown, small rural hamlets and larger commercial/institutional development — and needs zoning that responds to those differences,” she said. “This is something that is lacking in the current law.”
If adopted by the town board, the new law will set up zoning districts.
“The new districts largely follow property lines, so fewer landowners will find their lots divided by multiple zoning districts,” Saxton said. “The current zones are largely based on a distance back from the road so many lots are crossed by a zoning district boundary. The new districts are also closer to the APA (Adirondack Park Agency) land use classes, so fewer landowners will have to deal with the confusion of significantly different standards from the town and from the APA . Right now essentially all of the rural land in Ti is zoned for one–acre lots under the town’s law, but the APA requires anywhere from 1.3 to 42.7 acres.”