Chatham finds many meanings in zoning law rewrite

CHATHAM–The Village Board held a special meeting May 25 to review proposed changes to the village zoning laws drafted by the Zoning Revision Committee. Committee members came with zoning maps and a long list of update definitions for the zoning code.

Lael Locke, chair of the committee, said there were 127 definitions in the village zoning code and the committee went through each one.

“Some were deleted, some were clarified,” committee member Brin Quell said at the meeting. She also said that some were outdated.

Ms. Locke said there was no definition for a farmers’ market or food trucks in the code, or even a health/fitness center, though she pointed out that there already are several of those businesses in the village. And she said there are a dozen definitions for “dwelling.”

The committee suggests cutting that down to four – dwelling, group dwelling, one-family detached dwelling and accessory dwelling.

“A lot of this is so technical,” she said. Committee members said they used examples from other municipalities and deferred to state laws.

The Village Board updated its Comprehensive Plan two years ago and then created the committee to review the zoning law to make sure that the laws conform to changes made in the plan. Several people involved in updating the Comprehensive Plan also sat on the Zoning Revision Committee.

The village currently has a moratorium on commercial construction while the zoning revision is in progress, though the Village Board has granted waivers so that some projects have proceeded during the moratorium.

Committee member Stephen Piazza, who is also on the village Planning Board, said the committee is looking at having better definitions for the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals to work with. “We do have a lot more special use permits,” he said.

Ms. Locke said that one of big changes the committee proposes addresses the prospect of fast food businesses in the village, which would be prohibited in the proposed code. The draft allows “formula restaurants,” in some parts of the village.

The committee also discussed the definition of bed and breakfast businesses and rentals.

“Nothing is going to be outlawed that already exists,” Ms. Locke said. She urged the Village Board to review the definitions and the changes.

Village Mayor Tom Curran said the board would have a workshop on proposed zoning code changes.

The village must conduct a public hearing on the proposed changes and send the proposals to the Planning Board and the ZBA before the Village Board can vote on adopting them. Mayor Curran also said he would like to have the village attorney review the changes.

He did not set a date for the workshop.

Ms. Locke said she hoped the board would look over the changes, “sooner rather than later.”

The next regular Village Board meeting is June 8.

The updated Comprehensive Plan is available on the village website, www.villageofchatham.org.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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