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Charlotte inches closer to first-ever zoning code  

The Charlotte Town Board wrapped up its public hearing this week on the town’s proposed zoning law with plans to enact the muncipality’s first zoning ordinance at the board’s July 9 meeting.

While there were several questions posed during the hearing, many of the 30 residents who turned out – especially those planning to take part in a proposed wind turbine energy conversion project – indicated they were “satisfied” with the zoning program. “Like a lot of us, I’m satisfied with the zoning the way it is. … I’m here mostly to make sure there are no changes,’’ Darren Carlstrom said.

Later, at the brief session, William Duncanson, the town’s attorney, recommended that town officials plan to enact the zoning ordinance at the board’s July meeting, and the board quickly concurred.

Meanwhile, officials will submit a segment of the zoning plan to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, in response to a request of DEC representative, Keith Carrow, who attended the hearing.

Carrow said the DEC was interested in reviewing only that section of the zoning plan dealing with timbering and deforestization. The agency’s concern, he said, was that timbering might result in the removal of all or most of the valued trees, leaving only the low-value species behind.

Noting the DEC review is “generally a 45-day procedure,’’ Carrow said state officials “would probably work with (town officials) on that issue.’’

Also, a full copy of the zoning plan will be forwarded as soon as possible to Chautauqua County officials. That review, Duncanson said, is undertaken by the county after the town board conducts its hearing, and is expected to be completed in 30 days. Duncanson said he anticipated only minor recommendations from the county. Any changes, he said, would be available at the Town Clerk’s Office prior to the board’s July 9 vote on the zoning law.

Responding to concerns about zoning fees, officials agreed to establish a proposed zoning fee schedule and to present the data at the board’s June 11 meeting.

The issue was sparked by William Newton. “I’d like to know what this zoning is going to cost,” he said. Another town resident, Ronald Pavlock said he also was concerned about fees. After some discussion, it was agreed the board would prepare a fee schedule, a project to be completed and presented at the board’s upcoming meeting on June 11. Duncanson said officials would first review the town of Gerry’s fees.

Pavlock suggested the town’s fees be set at a lower rate than those of Gerry. “Given a free hand, town boards, which are always looking for more revenue, have a tendency to raise those rates,’’ he said.

One resident indicated another concern. “Is any member of the board getting paid in connection with a windmill farm contract, or involved in (windmill) negotiations?” he asked.

Duncanson said this matter had recently been “investigated” by officials. “We found there is no one on the board involved in windmill contracts or contract negotiations at this time,’’ the attorney said.

Responding to questions on zoning, Duncanson said a proposed wind farm energy conversion project “has nothing to do with a commercial venture.” The wind farm, including wind turbines or windmills would not be considered a commercial enterprise, he said, but rather “a permitted use in an agriculture/residential district.”

Moreover, the energy project would have no effect on property taxes, the attorney said. Duncanson said the zoning plan includes only two designated commercial/industrial areas – one along Route 60, and the other, Charlotte Center, where there “is a cluster of commercial activities.” In both areas, Duncanson said, Phase III Power is available. With the exception of flood plain areas, the remainder of the town is designated an agriculture/residential district.

By Alpha Husted

Observer Today

5 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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