By Kerry Barger
Southeast business owners and residents addressed problems regarding the 2013 Comprehensive Plan’s proposal to reinforce an outdoor storage limit during a public hearing held by the town board on Feb. 6.
According to the draft’s “Land Use, Community Character and Zoning” section, businesses would be required to remove outside storage from public view by way of “privacy fencing, evergreen landscaping, or berms” and, to the “greatest extent practicable,” reposition it to the back of the building.
All of this would be confined to 15 percent of the business’ lot size, excluding automobile dealerships and those otherwise determined by a special zoning district.
This “amortization” clause to decrease outdoor storage was originally included in the town’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan, which rezoned the portion of Route 6 between the Village and Danbury, Conn. as “gateway commercial” to establish an “attractive retail, office and commercial corridor.”
Because it was never enforced, the 2013 Comprehensive Plan committee revisited the possibility of beautifying local businesses, as they believe that particular section of Route 6 serves as a gateway for visitors traveling from Danbury, Conn.
Some residents took issue with the corridor’s gateway zoning, expressing concern that an outdoor storage limitation would be detrimental to businesses and taxpayers alike
“The comprehensive plan is for the whole town, but all the problems that I’ve seen discussed really pertain to the Route 6 corridor, that somebody decided was the gateway to Brewster,” Southeast resident Andy Shearer said. “I don’t understand it being the gateway to Brewster—most people come off 684, right into 22 into the village.”
Shearer also said an attempt to reorganize businesses in such a way would “stymie their growth,” which owners reiterated to the board during last week’s hearing.
Speaking on behalf of her family’s business, Erika Tremblay said the outdoor storage requirements are unrealistic and would ultimately jeopardize the economic livelihood of local businesses like the Tremson Corporation.
“This is 2014, in America—we live with cars and trucks as our main transportation,” Tremblay said while addressing the board. “We can’t just pretend like ‘you have machines you need to park, you need to park them inside.’ Outside storage is part of our business, it always has been, and we’ve been here for over 50 years.”
Lisa Lisi of Lisi’s Towing & Road Service, Inc. agreed “beautifying Brewster” is positive, but worried that modifying the aesthetic look of her family’s business would be too costly.
“Right now, I’m just at a point where I have to say to you, if we invest in this business and in this town and we turn it over to our son, is he still going to have a business that he can develop, or is he going to be faced with more objections?” Lisi said. “15 percent of our property? There’s no possible way we can keep our trucks there.”
Southeast Town Supervisor Tony Hay said he sympathizes with the town’s business owners, but reinforced that “things need to be done.”
“You have to keep things up, and make them look nice,” Hay said. “In the end, it’s not going to be perfect, but it has to be better than where it is today.”