GENESEO — The Geneseo Village Board passed changes to the Village Zoning Code regarding the compatibility of structures on Main Street Monday night, which passed by a margin of 4 votes to 1. The dissenting vote was Village Trustee Ben Gajewski.
The issue was forced with a newly vacant lot, located at 71 Main Street, which until last week was the Kelly’s Saloon building. The tweak to the code restricts what can be built on the empty lot.
“The laws take effect as soon as we adopt them,” said Mayor Richard Hatheway. “They would impact everybody that has not received a building permit at this point in time.”
According to David Woods, Chairman of the Geneseo Village Planning Board, the site’s owner, Steve Burnette, has filed an application but no site plan. Due to the fact that the Planning Board will need additional information, whoever eventually buys the plot will need to adhere to the newly passed law.
The new passed law reads:
“J. New structures shall be compatible in height and number of useable floors with existing buildings on adjoining properties.”
“K. facades. New or renovated structures shall comply with the facade Renovation Guidelins, as approved and adopted by the Village Board of Trustees.”
Amend Section 130-104, Application for the site plan approval, to insert a new item (4) under D, Development data. Remaining items will be renumbered accordingly.
“(4) under D, architectural features including exterior design, facade, windows and doors, roof line, building height and number of usable floors, and exterior materials and colors.”
Amend Section 130-105, standards for approval or disapproval, to insert a new item C. Remaining items will be re-lettered accordingly.
“C. achievement of a harmonious relationship and visual compatibility with surroundings and buildings located on adjoining properties.”
Concern was raised over the vagueness of the newly passed law especially in section J, by village Trustee Benjamin Gajewski, who was the only trustee to vote against the measure.
“I’d like the idea of at least requiring at least a two story structure, but the word ‘compatible’ kind of to me seems up for to much interpretation. I think if we want to say ‘we are requiring a two story building’ then we should just say ‘structure shall be two stories by a minimum,” stated Trustee Gajewski.
Trustee Gajeswski spent the afternoon personally walking the zone that would be impacted, from the Wadsworth homestead on South Street down to Saint Michaels’s Church where the zone MU-1 ends.
There were six properties that had two stories on one side and three on another side,” said Gajewski. “So it’s ambiguous if we would require three or two stories. There are 19 single-story buildings on Main Street with one story on one side and two on the other side, so 19 potential structures that if they were knocked down tomorrow potentially could be one or two depending on how we interpret this.”
One of those building owners impacted by the change in zoning was Scott Hicks of Rector Hicks Funeral Home at 111 Main Street, a two story structure.
“If I renovated my building or tore it down what would I be able to do?” asked Hicks. “I have three story on one side and one story on the other.”
Village Mayor Richard Hatheway was stumped by the question and where the building would fit. He then proceeded to vote in favor of the code change.
“I think Planning Board would have to look at that,” said Mayor Hatheway. “So we cant give you a definitive answer.”
Village Trustee Margaret Duff voted in support of the new law and defended its vagueness.
“I think we did that on purpose because that gives the Planning Board some flexibility,” said Geneseo Village Trustee Margaret Duff.
“To me, the goal of this is to make sure our business district stays high density multi-use, and it doesn’t go far enough or clear enough to achieve that,” said Trustee Gajewski.
After standing alone as the only ‘nay’ voter, Gajewski added, “I just think it’s loose.”