Southeast Public Hearing Continues to Bring Complaining Businesses

By Janine Bowen

In a continuation of the Southeast Town Board’s public hearing regarding the Comprehensive Plan, business owners again took issue with the proposal to reinforce an outdoor storage limit for local businesses.

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. This would be confined to 15 percent of the business’ lot size.

Anthony Malay, representing George Tremblay who owns several properties along Danbury Road, took issues with storage being limited to 15 percent of lot size.

“In regard to the 15 percent number that’s been placed into the [comprehensive] plan proposal, 15 percent is merely pulled out of the air…there’s no rational basis that’s been stated thus far for the percentage arrived at by the committee, which makes it an arbitrary figure,” he said at Thursday’s meeting.

Malay believes including a specific percentage is more than necessary for the Comprehensive Plan and the decision of the amount of land allocated for storage should be left to the zoning board, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

“Maybe, when you get to that point, you lay it out in a way that recognizes there are certain uses that need more outside storage than others and have different outdoor storage… restrictions based upon uses,” he explained.

Business owner Stuart Arbiet, who owns buildings at 991 through 999 on Route 22, also took issue with applying to the same storage limitations to businesses with different needs.

“I think the percentages should be absolutely out of the plan. It should be [based] on what you’re doing there. A dealership can’t operate with a percentage like that and we have a few automotive dealers around. You have to have a plan that’s going to work, not a plan that can’t be enforced,” he said.

As of now, however, the plan will make exceptions for dealerships and other businesses determined by special zoning districts.

Arbiet also questioned if there would be an exception to the 15 percent rule for businesses that need to store large quantities of materials outside, because law prohibits the materials from being stored inside.

“There’s no guarantee yes or no to that question, but when we discuss it in public, you will get the answer at that time,” responded Supervisor Tony Hay.

Hay also said that, although there has been talk of the Comprehensive Plan including a provision that forbids a commercial building to be 500 feet from a residence, he “doesn’t see that happening.”

The Public Hearing phase of the Comprehensive Plan will remain open for the next Southeast Town Board meeting on March 13.

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