The Examiner

Mt. Pleasant Approves Columbus Avenue Rezone for Retail

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Over the objection of former supervisor Joan Maybury, the Mount Pleasant Town Board unanimously agreed to rezone four Columbus Avenue properties last week to allow for potential retail development.

The town board on March 10 approved Chris DeMartino’s request to change the zoning of his 5.1-acre property, across the street from the Highway Department garage, from an office use (OB-1) to CPS, a zone that allows retail businesses. DeMartino, a town resident, is looking to build a small shopping center with a total of 16,700 square feet of retail space.

The board also rezoned three other nearby properties on Columbus Avenue  to extend the CPS zone at the request of the planning board–the town Highway Department parcel, the Valhalla Garden Center and Westwood Swim & Tennis Association. The rezone enables these four parcels to have the same zoning as the nearby Rose Hill Shopping Center.

Last month a planning board majority opposed changing the zone only for DeMartino because it could have constituted spot zoning. Instead, the planning board indicated that if a rezone were to be considered, it should include other properties.

Several Rose Hill Shopping Center merchants have been critical of  DeMartino’s plan because they are concerned about an oversaturation of businesses in the area. Rose Hill is located less than a mile from DeMartino’s property.

Last year while she was still in office, Maybury was the only town board member to publicly oppose his request. She called on the board last week to postpone its vote, but to no avail.

The rezone also violates the intent of the Master Plan, which called for office buildings in that area, Maybury said.

Many residents also weren’t aware of the change, she added.

“They should delay the public hearing and not go forward with the vote tonight,” Maybury said before the meeting.

Neither Maybury nor any other residents spoke during the public hearing.

Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said he and his colleagues had taken the proper steps in rezoning the Columbus Avenue parcels. Though Fulgenzi said he respected Maybury’s opinion, the board followed proper protocol and consulted legal counsel.

“We would not try to push something through that was not proper,” Fulgenzi said. “The public was notified numerous times at the planning board level and at the town board level. This has been in discussion for a number of years.”

Additional office buildings on Columbus Avenue was discouraged by town planning consultant Pat Cleary because of the high vacancy rates for office space, he said.

“We don’t want to have empty office buildings,” Fulgenzi said.

The remainder of the board agreed with the supervisor. Councilman Denis McCarthy pointed to Fulgenzi’s comments at the reorganization meeting in January when he outlined the additional development in the area, including the opening of EF Academy and the boarding school’s proposed expansion. With the additional students and staff , more retail will be needed in the area, McCarthy said.

Councilman Mark Rubeo also said the change was needed for Columbus Avenue.

“The town is changing. It is changing for the better,” he said.


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