Niagara Gazette — Lewiston officials had everything they needed at their disposal to adopt changes to the town's zoning code and map.
They'd spent more than a year examining what was there already, making changes, meeting with those most affected by whatever ideas they had and asking for public comment. But the town's old zoning code, complete with some enforcement issues on the books since the mid-1960s, remains the law of the land Tuesday.
How long it remains law, though, remains to be seen.
"A large reason we're waiting is to make sure everyone has the chance to comment on our changes," Wendel Engineer Ellen Parker said. "We're trying to be as transparent as possible with this process."
Changing the code appears to be all but certain. After the long process, two public hearings – the final one held Monday featuring two speakers – and two public information sessions in Sanborn, and little to no negative comments from the public, it may be just a matter of time.
But under different circumstances, changing something as important and as convoluted as a zoning plan or map can be a difficult topic to tackle. These rules affect what property owners are allowed to do with their land and changing the rules can be messy, according to Building/Zoning Officer Timothy Masters.
He said the Town Board's decision to make the changes and the affect they'll have on his job will be drastic.
"This is a very unpopular job," he said. "But the language changes will give me more clarity. If you look at the zoning book as it is right now ... it's not very clear in some areas on what people can do on their property. The new code is really cut and dry. The map is also much more clear about where things are, which lot is which."
As an example, he said the town currently might have land parcels partially zoned business, with the other part rural residential. Because there's no clear defined line marking the change in reality, it leaves the matter of interpretation to him.
Conversely, the new map, if adopted, is based on zoning individual parcels of land throughout the town, eliminating most of the concerns Masters said he has.
"I commend the town board for seeing the importance of these changes and trying to move the town forward," he said. "It should have been done a long time ago. But I think it'll be positive for the town."
The plan's biggest change happens in Sanborn, thanks to the creation of an entirely new category. Similar to the zoning of Clarence Hollow in Erie Country, much of the farming community would be changed to a hybrid residential and business district called Traditional Neighborhood Design.
A few properties in the hamlet were left as is, including one industrial parcel at the southwest corner of the area. But for the most part, the new zone is going to make it easier for Masters, and the property owners, to determine what is allowed.
Before the changes can be adopted, the proposal does need to be tweaked a little. One portion of property belonging to Modern Corp. along Model City Road, currently zoned as industrial, was to be shifted to business. But the company addressed the issue in written correspondence to the town, according to a representative at Monday's public hearing.
Town Supervisor Steve Reiter said the concerns will be addressed and the portion in question will be left as it currently is.