New zoning regulations near completion
By William D. O'Connor

The Grand Island Planning Board, on Monday, November 6, met with the Town Board in a workshop session. For the past two years, the Planning Board has been working with Town Attorney Dan Spitzer of the law firm Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods, and Goodyear to redraw the town's zoning map, and to make it consistent with the master plan (adopted in 1994). The board presented the town with its second preliminary draft of this effort which will likely be available for observation at the library and town hall beginning this week (November 13). Interested persons may purchase a copy of the draft in the town hall for 25 cents per page according to Grand Island Council Member Mary Cooke.

"We should have had it done by the end of 1999," the board's advisor to the town, Council Member Mike Heftka said. He felt the delay was due to a subcontractor that "missed the boat" and made changes the town didn't want.

"Today,the laws don't coincide with what the Master Plan says" Grand Island Supervisor Peter McMahon said this week. According to McMahon, it has caused a lot of confusion with developments like Southpointe and the Eckert store. For Eckert to have built in a matter consistent with the Master Plan, they would have needed a special use permit, he said. The new code and map should alleviate some of this type of confusion.

Three of the "thorniest" issues to the process are outdoor storage, auto and boat storage and animals other than horses according to Spitzer. The old code required outdoor storage facilities to be fenced. Should a berm be allowed in place of a fence? What is storage and what is inventory? Those issues will be dealt with in the new code. The code will also decide whether auto and boat dealers will be exempt from the fence requirement.

Farm animals other than horses are not permitted under the present code, but many people on the island enjoy having goats, llamas, cows, pigs, ducks, chickens and other animals. The town has taken little action against homeowners with farm animals. One homeowner on Fix Road drew a great deal of criticism during the October 16 town board meeting. Neighbors feel that there are too many farm animals on that property and that they are creating an unhealthy nuisance. The new code will clarify how many animals and which type a property owner may be permitted keep.

McMahon feels the code should have been revised at the same time the Master Plan was adopted (before he took office). The final draft will likely become law sometime in December or January according to the supervisor.

"It's going to be controversial" according to Cooke. There will be a great deal of discussion and modification before the bill is passed.

The Grand Island Planning Board is a seven member volunteer advisory board that meets the second Monday each month at 7:00 p.m. in the first floor conference room of the town hall. The members are charged with the responsibility to recommend laws that relate to town planning, recommend the approval or denial of "applications for site plan, sub-division, special use, and zoning changes, and to make such investigations, maps, reports, and recommendations in connection with the planning and development of the town as it deems desirable," according to a Grand Island Town Booklet.

The board often has the difficult job of telling a homeowner or developer "no, you can't build that way. It's against the code or out of character with the neighborhood." They also must recommend developments and permits which may be unpopular with the neighbors. Their advisory status means that the town board can, in rare cases, vote contrary to their recommendation.

Tower opposed on Whitehaven Rd.

The Town Planning Board tabled two referrals and approved two others at its meeting Monday, November 13. The board tables requests to give applicants time to re-write their proposals and save application fees.

Whitehaven Road Baptist Church, 1290 Whitehaven Road submitted a plan for a 125 foot radio tower to transmit programming from Family Life Ministries Inc. on 89.3 FM. Church officials also requested a variance for the set-back (fall zone) regulations so that they could use more of their land. If it were to fail, the proposed tower is designed to fall in a smaller radius according to church engineer Jim Travis.

Mary Dunbar-Daluisio of Whitehaven Rd. and other neighbors opposed the project, because it is in a residential neighborhood, possible negative health effects due to radiation from the tower, and loss of property value due to having an unsightly structure near their property.

The board tabled the request and suggested the church change the proposed location of the tower (moving it deeper into the church's lot) to comply with set-back regulations. Planning board member John Trianda explained that fall zone regulations protect neighbors from falling ice that may build up on the tower and then blow off, causing injuries or property damage.

The decision, based on the law and protecting the development interests of the church's closest neighbors, was unpopular with both sides of the issue. The proposed location would move the tower closer to the church's existing neighbors and would also limit the use of church property. Dunbar-Daluisio said, "I don't know whether I won or not."

The board also tabled the request of Carol Merckel for a special use permit for two horses on three acres. Planners asked that she revise her site plan to include a barn and change her manure disposal plans to comply with county health codes. The board approved the proposal of Raymond Dlugokinski for excavation of a .13 acre pond and the division of 3050 Staley Rd. into two separate lots for Thomas Szczerba.

Planners also had a brief discussion with Earl Long concerning his business on Long Road. The board suggested he apply for a variance to zoning regulations rather than trying to rezone his property, and that he build a berm around his property to make it more visually appealing. Board Advisor Grand Island Council Member Mike Heftka advised Long to consult with the town's attorney Peter Godfrey before submitting his variance to avoid possible future delays.
Long was refused a rezoning request earlier this fall.

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