Spencer

“We don’t want to force anything unwanted on the residents,” said Jeff Luciano, Chairman of the Spencer Planning Board, at its Aug. 26 meeting. Once again, the board did not have a quorum and could not conduct any official business, but they did discuss what direction the new Land Use Commission should take. The choices are land use regulations or simple zoning. “Zoning Light,” as it was referred to, identifies areas already functioning as industrial, commercial or residential. “The goal is organization within the community so we have guidelines for how things get done that we can all follow and get behind,” he added. 

Tim Goodrich, a Village trustee, told the planning board that the Village board’s goal is to protect the residents here already, so someone doesn’t build a garage on top of the property line and observes an appropriate setback. “You can’t have setbacks unless you have a zoning law,” he added. This fact came to light at a recent meeting with the Tioga County Planning Director Elaine Jardine and tipped the village board into giving zoning more consideration. 

Luciano responded that if the Village board wants to direct the Land Use Commission to study zoning as its first priority then the Commission needs to know that. If the residents let them know that’s not what they want, the Commission can then develop and recommend land use regulations instead. 

Luciano asked Goodrich to have the Village board at its Aug. 29 meeting give the commission specific direction so they know which goal to pursue. He noted that almost everyone wants to protect their property values. Zoning light may be the best way to do that and make village growth reasonable. 

In the past, zoning was referred to as the “Z” word—something no one ever wanted. Knowing this, the planning board said they will have to do an excellent job of providing factual information in a clear, easy, brief, and enjoyable presentation, as they know that educating the public to what zoning light will mean is critical. For instance, any current business will automatically be grandfathered in, regardless of which zone it is in. Also, zoning is not cast in concrete. A resident can always ask the board of zoning appeals for a variance, depending on what they want to do. 

In the end, the board agreed that they would like, with the Village board’s approval, to pursue basic zoning with a minimal number of regulations. They committed to do the education piece and agreed that it would only be recommended to the village board to adopt, after the public hearings, if the residents either want it, don’t object, or have no opinion. The village board did approve, at their Aug. 29 meeting, zoning as the primary goal for the Land Use Commission to study.

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