by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — Zoning map changes in the town were approved after more than a year of work Monday. For most of the town, that is.
The Lewiston Town Board approved the changes, including the placement of the Traditional Neighborhood Design zone in Sanborn, with a special caveat built in to require engineering firm Wendel Engineers consider creating a special rural residential zone designed to cover three large properties in the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site.
Lewiston resident Amy Witryol proposed the change, which would only affect three properties, including the Niagara Falls Storage Site and the former Waste Water Treatment Plant site owned by the town.
"Currently, there's a (rural residential) zone, which doesn't require a special use permit to (build) a residence," Witryol told the board. "(This) would create a (second rural residential) zone, which the town could require a special use permit, but it would also encourage the best possible cleanup scenario at those sites in the future."
Witryol originally asked the board to put the map approval on hold last month after the original plan zoned the properties industrial.
She said the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for developing and implementing any cleanup of radioactive or contaminating materials, is required to take into effect future land use in making its decision. Therefore, zoning the properties as potential housing locations – though only through special permission from the town – would aid in getting a better result once time comes, she said.
"We really want to make sure we get the best cleanup possible at those sites," she said. "We want the town to zone them for what the town wants to see there in the future. You can't zone things based on what's already there."
Following Witryol's December request, the town changed the zoning map to reflect industrial-2 zone for the three properties, a change from its original industrial-1.
Supervisor Steve Reiter said the current zone is less restrictive than the original proposal, though it still wouldn't allow for any residential use.
He said allowing the engineers to look into this would give the board an option going forward.
"They stand as I-2 now, but we're going to let our engineers look into this and give us a recommendation," Reiter said. "But it's strictly a recommendation only. We can only go so far, though. When you try to zone something rural residential when it's been zoned industrial all along, you're just opening yourself up to problems."