BROCTON - Although its first meeting of the new year was brief, the Village of Brocton Board of Trustees had a lot to discuss regarding zoning issues.
Mayor J. Dale Abram updated the board on discussions taking place regarding use variance requests for businesses.
Recently, a Brocton business changed the type of business being offered, and the mayor reported that, in accordance with zoning codes, the business owner needed to go in front of the zoning board to ask for a use variance.
"Our code enforcement officer does not feel that's business-friendly," stated the mayor. "He is gathering together some paperwork for a proposal to make that situation more business-friendly, and for a future discussion, we may talk about changing all of the zoning requirements for use variances. Mr. Monaco thinks this would be a move in the right direction."
Regarding another zoning matter, the mayor reported his opinion to the board of trustees on the change request brought forward by Earl and Nicole Arnold, for a village property that the couple wishes to maintain horses on.
Reading from an official statement from the New York Conference of Mayors which was provided to the OBSERVER, Abram emphasized that "villages are not required to respond to a citizen petition for a zone change. If a village has not adopted a local procedure whereby a citizen may petition the village board for a change in district classification for a parcel of land, which is still an amendment to the zoning law, then a village board does not have to vote on, hold a public hearing on or even consider citizen requests for changes to zoning. Village boards may amend, modify, supplement or repeal their zoning laws as they see fit. Inclusion of this type of procedure in the zoning law may cause several problems. Most importantly, zoning must be adopted in accordance with a comprehensive plan. Amending zoning as a result of citizen petition can lead to 'spot zoning' and deviation from a comprehensive plan."
"Spot zoning," according to the NYCOM position statement is defined when a small parcel of land is singled out for a use that is totally different from that of the surrounding area, for the benefit of the owner and to the detriment of others. The mayor pointed out, that the comprehensive plan in use by the village does not shed any light on agricultural use of village property, pro or con.
"All of the property in the village is R1, R2 or commercial," noted Abram.
Village attorney Sam Drayo also read a provided statement quoting Section 1101 A(1) of the Brocton Zoning Law, noting that the village "may on its own motion or on petition amend the Zoning Law for the Village of Brocton, and that there is nothing in the Village Zoning Law or Village Law of the State of New York requiring the board to move forward and call a public hearing to change the law simply because a petition was presented to the board requesting a zoning change."
Drayo went on to add, "If the village decides it would like to proceed to amend the zoning law as it is requested by the Arnolds, then it should make sure the requested change is in accordance with a comprehensive plan. ... This means that the proposed amendment is calculated to benefit the community as a whole as opposed to benefit individuals or a group of individuals."
The mayor quoted Code Enforcement Officer John Monaco's concern that "10 continuous acres are required to pasture horses and that if enough acreage weren't located at that property, rezoning may not solve the issue."
Monaco, according to the mayor, asked that the Arnolds, who were not present at last week's meeting, re-apply with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which would need to vote unanimously for a re-hearing on the matter.
Trustee Art Donovan asked whether a matter of hardship could be considered for the couple to be able to use the parcel of land in question to keep horses. Drayo noted that at the time of petition, the zoning board would have looked into their situation for defining criteria of a hardship situation.
After some discussion, the board resolved to take no action on the request noting "it doesn't seem to be in village interest or village taxpayer interest."