In order for the town to sustain growth and remain fiscally sound, there must be an increase in the taxable value of the commercially ratable properties along with the returning of exempt properties to the tax rolls.
The development or re-development of commercial properties within the existing zoning rules and the comprehensive plan should be encouraged and the process expedited within the law. While we may not like what some developers are proposing, if they are within their property rights, there is little that the town can do. The case-in-point is the Murphy property redevelopment. Excoriating the town board over the preliminary design is nonsensical. If the builder thinks he can rent to a bank, opponents can voice their opinion but should not ask the town board to attempt to prevent it.
The redevelopment of the highway garage property will add to the commercial tax base and improve the aesthetics by removing what is clearly an eyesore.
The Weyant property is entirely another matter. The property is zoned residential. Property owners located behind the Weyant property may have purchased their property after inquiring about the neighboring property. Most home buyers inquire about neighborhoods, schools and religious institutions when looking for a home. Rezoning the Weyant property to multifamily zoning will have a detrimental impact on the neighboring residential property owners. The increase in traffic alone on their narrow streets or in the alternative cross traffic turns on Route 202 will negatively impact traffic, as well as pedestrian and vehicular safety. Providing 79 parking spaces for 36 units will be insufficient during holiday times and when tradespeople are visiting the site. The town board has no responsibility to ensure that real estate speculators can turn a profit through rezoning at the expense of existing property owners.
Similarly, the building plans for the Pied Piper School may provide a needed resource within the town; the traffic plan leaves much to be desired. The traffic consultant stated before the planning board that upon exiting the property, the vehicle operators must make a right turn and go west on Route 202. He further stated that there are signs directing the same. The signs, however, are not DOT signs and are not enforceable. Also, at the same planning board meeting, when asked by a board member about parking for special events, he replied that they use the Chase Bank parking lot for overflow parking and that they provide a shuttle back to the school. In order to get to the Chase Bank from the school, you must turn left and go east on Route 202 contrary to what the traffic consultant had stated earlier during his presentation.
The town board and the planning board must take into consideration the safety and existing property rights of all citizens before granting any extraordinary exceptions or property rezoning.