Weekly Feature

2017-09-07 / Front Page

Until master plan is set, rezoning may be put on ice

by AMY ROBB Editor

The Lancaster Town Board held a public hearing at Tuesday night’s meeting regarding a moratorium on rezoning.

Under the proposed moratorium, all “Town agencies and personnel shall not accept, process, review, or consider any applications for rezoning within the Town limits,” according to the resolution outlined at the Aug. 21 meeting.

“It puts the brakes on any rezones that are coming in while the Town is updating the master plan,” said Councilman John Abraham.

“There may be some changes to the code, to the zoning, and that may alleviate the need for some rezones.”

If the resolution passes at the board’s next meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, the moratorium would be in effect for six months from that date.

There is a section in the resolution that states the board can extend the moratorium another six months beyond March, but Abraham doesn’t expect that to be the case.

“I don’t anticipate that happening. We have to have [the master plan] done by March. The grant we got from the county requires us to have it done by March,” Abraham added.

Town officials don’t believe the moratorium would hinder community growth in the long run.

“Projects can still come in, they just can’t ask for a change in the zoning. It’s a very short window that this would be in place, I don’t think it would have any long-standing impacts,” said Abraham.

“Typically, your larger projects are going to research the correct zoning, and then try to acquire those properties. Rezoning is never guaranteed, and it may just be a wasted effort for the applicant to go down that road,” added Matthew Fischione, code enforcement officer for the town.

In addition to the public hearing, the board passed a local law to regulate solar energy facilities within the town.

“I know it’s becoming more common, hence the need for us to get something on the books to regulate how they’re designed,” Abraham said.

The new law defines different solar systems and terminology, as well as providing guidelines for collecting solar energy when it comes to minor and major systems. Whether a solar system is in the minor or major category depends on how much energy is being collected, measured in megawatts.

Minor systems can be used with a building permit in all zoning districts, but ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors are only permitted in business and industrial districts.

Major systems are permitted with a special use permit in Light Industrial, General Industrial, and Sand, Gravel and Aggregates districts.

The finished law is based on a state-published archetype, which the town used as a jumping-off point for its own law molded to fit the needs of the town, including a list of districts where solar farms could be placed, according to Fischione.

The next Lancaster Town Board meeting takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, at Lancaster Town Hall, 21 Central Ave. There is always a work session a half hour prior to each meeting.

Those interested in learning more about the master plan involving the Town of Lancaster, Village of Lancaster and Village of Depew are invited to attend a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Depew Senior Center, 85 Manitou St.

Those looking to read the entire solar energy law can visit www.lancasterny.gov and click on pre-filed resolutions for Sept. 5.

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