Village plans zoning changes

Jason C. Pfotenhauer, deputy director of the St. Lawrence County Planning Office, looks at zoning maps for the village of Gouverneur. Susan Mende/Watertown Daily Times

GOUVERNEUR — Proposed changes to the village’s zoning code would expand the type of businesses allowed on a section of Main Street near the Price Chopper grocery store by rezoning the area from a residential/business district to a Business-2 district.

Village Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said the village board voted 3-2 in favor of the change to allow a broader range of business development.

“That was considered somewhat controversial,” Mr. McDougall said. “We made a significant investment in that area by installing a 16-inch water line. We think the zoning change is important for Main Street.”

The zoning change on the portion of Main Street near Price Chopper was against a recommendation made by a committee the village board appointed to review the zoning code. St. Lawrence County Planner Jason Pfotenhauer said county planners were also against the change.

“The committee and staff recommended that not be changed because the majority of uses in there are residential, they’re not businesses. If you change that to B-2, those people there who have houses may be impacted there,” Mr. Pfotenhauer said.

The village has been working with county planning staff for more than a year to revise the existing code which hasn’t been updated since 2006.

The new code also sets guidelines for small-scale and commercial-sized solar projects and other parts of the code including the keeping of certain farm animals. It also streamlines the special permit provisions and site plan review language.

The public will get a chance to offer input on the zoning code during a public hearing scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Sept. 17 in the municipal building.

The proposed changes also include eliminating the residential manufactured housing zone. That area would be added to the existing R-3 zone.

Modular and manufactured homes are allowed in both the R-2 and R-3 zones so nothing that exists now will be prohibited, Mr. Pfotenhauer said.

“That’s why they felt they could get rid of this one (residential manufacturing), because it’s allowed in other places,” he said. “If you get rid of a zone it just simplifies things. It makes it easier.”

In its review, the county Planning Board recommended the village clarify its position on whether single-wide mobile homes will be allowed under the new code.

The R-3 district lists them as an allowed use, but defines them as being only buildings on a chassis constructed prior to 1976. Manufactured homes bearing a HUD placard are restricted to at least double wides in all zones that allow them.

Although county planning staff and the county Planning Board can advise municipalities on zoning issues, only the elected boards have the power to adopt zoning rules. The county Planning Board reviewed the proposed changes at its Aug. 9 meeting.

To overrule Planning Board recommendations, a majority plus one vote is needed from the village board.

“The autonomy to adopt zoning rests with the municipality so even though the county Planning Board says you should change this, this and this, they (village board) can say we’re not going to do that,” Mr. Pfotenhauer said.

The village paid the county Planning Department $4,800 for working on the zoning project.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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